Chapters 50-51 Summary

Humbert has a small, lockable box with an elaborate Oriental design on it—a gift from Gaston back in Beardsley. Every now and then, when Lolita is sleeping, Humbert opens the box and checks its contents, a .32 caliber pistol and a set of cartridges. He keeps the gun in case he ever needs to shoot anyone. As Lolita’s behavior grows stranger and more evasive, he finds himself thinking more and more about this weapon. He is glad that he took the time to learn to use it during his short marriage to Charlotte. He is not a great shot, but he did wound a squirrel once, and he is fairly certain he could hit a larger target.

As he and Lolita drive west, Humbert begins noticing a red convertible following them. It does not occur to him to feel jealous of the man driving it. Humbert only suspects that the driver is a police officer out to arrest him and take Lolita away. Because of this, he is horrified one day when he goes into a gas station and notices, through the window, that Lolita is cheerfully talking with the convertible’s ugly, balding driver.

Returning to the car, Humbert tells Lolita his theory that the man is a police officer. Lolita does not seem scared. She just laughs and says that, if this is the case, then the worst thing they could do would be to act suspicious. The next day, the convertible is still following them, but Humbert manages to slip away into a side street after a traffic roadblock. Lolita seems annoyed, and she repeats her statement that this is a dangerous move.

Now free of their pursuer, Humbert and Lolita drive on to a town called Wace, where Lolita has expressed a desire to see a certain festival. When they arrive, they learn that she has misread the dates, and now the festival is over. She takes the news well. There is a theater event in town, so the two of them go to see a play. Humbert hates the production, finding the effects “self-conscious” and the acting “mediocre.” He happens to notice that the playwrights are Clare Quilty and Vivian Darkbloom. When he mentions to Lolita that she used to admire the handsome Clare Quilty, she insists that this is untrue. She tells Humbert that he is confused, and that Clare Quilty is a woman. Humbert thinks he is right, but he is not interested enough to look it up and find out for certain.