Chapters 42-43 Summary
Humbert finds Lolita’s female friends in Beardsley “on the whole disappointing.” Most of them are not nymphets. Linda Hall, the school tennis champion, might be a little goddess, but she never comes to the house. After a while, Humbert begins to suspect that Lolita has forbidden Linda from coming over. The other girls are mostly pimply or hairy or fat, and Lolita bullies them. One girl, Eva Rosen, shows promise as a nymphet, but Lolita stops being friends with Eva before Humbert can get to know her well.
The most interesting of Lolita’s friends is Mona Dahl, an older girl who probably used to be a nymphet. Lolita tells Humbert that Mona is sexually experienced, and he does not doubt it from the way she behaves. He also suspects that Mona knows something of Lolita’s life. Once, Humbert overhears Mona joking that Lolita's virgin wool sweater is the only virginal thing about her. Afterward, Lolita swears that Mona said nothing of the sort, but Humbert does not believe her.
Once, near the end of the school year, Mona Dahl comes to the house when Lolita is not there. Humbert pumps Mona for information about Lolita, but Mona’s answers are largely devoid of content. She says that Lolita is “great” and “swell” and “not much concerned with mere boys.” As soon as she can, she tries to get Humbert to talk about his books. Watching the girl’s coy manner, Humbert suddenly wonders if Lolita is “playing the pimp.” However, Lolita arrives before anything more happens. She stares suspiciously at her friend and her stepfather but says nothing about finding them talking together.
Humbert’s feelings for Lolita have not even begun to fade. Sometimes he is overcome by her beauty while he watches her busily engaged with homework or some other ordinary task. Then, full of love, ready to forget every quarrel the two of them have ever had, he gets down on all fours and crawls to her. He only wants to hold her:
The fragility of those bare arms of yours—how I longed to enfold them, all your four limpid lovely limbs, a folded colt....
However, Lolita is not capable of believing that Humbert could merely love her. She cannot imagine him wanting to place his head in her lap without going any further. When he comes to her in this mood, she just glares at him and orders him to get away from her. Then she watches, cruelly mocking his movements, as he gets up and drags himself away.