Chapter 65 Summary

On his way to Ramsdale, Humbert reflects that Lolita never really saw him as a romantic partner, but only as a physical inflictor of sex. Sometime during his first long trip with her, he decided to pretend to himself that she loved him. He saw many glimpses of the way she really felt, and he coached himself to ignore them. It made him feel better.

Once, early on, Humbert promised Lolita some childish reward in order to induce her to have sex with him. After she had done what he wanted, he took the reward away. He happened to see her afterward, when she thought he was not looking, and the expression on her face was practically shattered. It was not a look that belonged on a child. And Humbert still did not let her have her reward.

Now, such memories are “limbless monsters of pain” for Humbert. He remembers another time, when he heard Lolita make a sophomoric, clichéd comment about death to one of her friends, and he realized that he had no idea who she really was. He explains that he and Lolita lived “in a world of total evil.” Because of this, they both felt “strangely embarrassed” whenever they tried to interact normally as adult and child. They could not casually discuss an event or an idea or a work of art. Whenever they tried, Lolita acted cruel or bored, and Humbert acted artificial.

Sometimes after sex with Lolita, when Humbert was totally sated, he would hold her close, feeling ashamed of himself for what he was doing to her. But just as his mind would turn to noble thoughts, his body would start to feel lust again, and he would resume his abuse.

On another occasion, the father of Lolita’s friend Avis came to the Humbert home to pick up his daughter. As they all chatted in the living room, Avis innocently sat down on her father’s knee. Then Lolita, who normally was full of smiles in the presence of strangers, froze and dropped a heavy fruit knife on her foot. She ran out, crying:

followed at once and consoled in the kitchen by Avis who had such a wonderful fat pink dad and a small chubby brother, and a brand-new baby sister, and a home, and two grinning dogs, and Lolita had nothing.

This, Humbert realizes, is the worst of it. Lolita needed the loving tenderness of a real parent, but Humbert only cared about himself. A family, even a bad family, would have been better for her than the “parody of incest” which Humbert gave her.