Chapter 45 Summary

At Christmas, Lolita catches a bad cold. Humbert takes her to a doctor, who is kind to her and asks no uncomfortable questions. Lolita has bronchitis, but Humbert does not stop his usual schedule of sex. For him, handling a listless girl with a fever is full of “unexpected delights.” Lolita, for her part, just trembles and coughs and accepts whatever he does.

After Lolita gets better, Humbert allows her to throw a party and invite boys to the house. He is not looking forward to this “ordeal,” so he gets drunk to steel himself. Lolita’s girlfriends come first, and they all decorate the house with a Christmas tree and colored lights. They pick out records to play on the phonograph as Humbert watches over them, drunkenly admiring Lolita’s pretty skirt. When the party starts, Humbert goes upstairs, but he returns to the room every few minutes to check up on Lolita. Each time he enters the room, he pretends to be looking for something, but he fools nobody.

The party is a fiasco. One of the girls does not show up, and one of the boys brings a cousin, so the group is unevenly matched for dancing. To make matters worse, only one of the boys can dance. Soon the kids stop trying. They spend most of the party making messes in the kitchen and arguing about what game to play. Eventually they settle on a game, but even that does not go well. One of the players, Opal, cannot understand the rules. Meanwhile, Lolita’s friend Mona and a boy named Roy refuse to play, instead opting to sit around drinking soda and talking. When everyone finally leaves, Lolita says “ugh” and drops into a chair in an attitude of total disgust. She calls the boys “revolting,” and Humbert is delighted. To prove his happiness, he buys her a new tennis racket.

After the party, life goes well for a while. January and February are far warmer than usual, and Humbert buys Lolita a bicycle for her birthday. She likes biking, and he enjoys watching her body as she gets on and off her bike seat. For a second present, he buys her a book, History of Modern American Painting, but he finds her reactions disappointing. She cannot understand why Humbert thinks some painters are better than the others, and when old men are depicted with sensuous girls, she asks if the men are the girls’ fathers.