Chapter 24 Summary
Thunderstorms are building over the town of Ramsdale as Humbert prepares to leave Charlotte’s house for the last time. Wind blows through the trees, and a few raindrops fall. John Farlow waits outside while Humbert goes back in for some possession he has left behind. Jean Farlow, John’s wife, is still inside.
Humbert interrupts the narrative here to emphasize, once again, that he is an extremely attractive man. “Of course, such announcements made in the first person may sound ridiculous,” he writes, but he insists that the reader must not forget it. His whole life, his virile handsomeness has affected the way girls and women relate to him. If he were not so attractive, he may never have become a criminal. Lolita would never have developed her girlish crush, nor would Charlotte have felt her womanly love for him. He admits now for the first time that Charlotte's love deserves a measure of respect for its sincerity, in spite of the fact that it was so pathetic and possessive.
It turns out that Humbert’s masculine beauty has attracted the attention of Jean Farlow as well. She is a tall woman who drinks a great amount of alcohol and tries—with appalling clumsiness—to be both a writer and a painter. To him, she is utterly unappealing, with her “special barking laugh” and her “dull teeth and pale gums.” She does not know this, however. On the day of his departure, when her husband is safely out of sight, she grabs him and tries “to glue herself” to his lips.
Humbert resists Jean’s clumsy advances, but she assumes that this is merely the result of the “miserable circumstances” of the current moment. She bids him goodbye and, as thunder booms outside, suggests that they may someday meet again. Instead of bothering to tell her that he has no interest in such a meeting, Humbert allows her to persist in her fantasy that he would sleep with her under different circumstances.
Humbert says his goodbyes and drives away into the storm. As he leaves, he takes a last look at the spot on the street where Charlotte was killed, and he thinks about the way she looked when he identified her body. The top of her head was bashed in, but her eyes were not damaged in the accident. They were still wet from her tears, and her lashes were all stuck together—just like Lolita’s when she cries.