Chapters 57-58 Summary

Humbert thinks that Lolita must have met her kidnapper in Beardsley, so eventually he returns there. He considers all of the men she had the opportunity to meet. Soon he grows suspicious of a young male art teacher named Mr. Riggs who occasionally conducted classes at Lolita’s school.

Humbert never met Lolita’s art teacher when she was in school, but he knows that Riggs teaches classes at Beardsley College. One afternoon, Humbert takes his revolver and sits waiting outside the man’s classroom. As he waits, Humbert realizes that he is being insane. There is virtually no chance that Riggs, of all the men in the world, is really responsible for kidnapping Lolita.

When Riggs appears, Humbert does not recognize him. However, he definitely is not the man who pursued Lolita on their strange cross-country journey. Riggs recognizes Humbert from a cocktail party in the distant past. He chats amiably for a moment and then goes away. Afterward, Humbert decides that Beardsley is a dead end. He resolves to drive to California to search for Lolita on the youth tennis circuit.

Humbert does not leave town right away. First, he hires a private detective. This man spends two years hunting down every fake name and address Lolita’s lover wrote on his hotel registration forms. He turns up no usable evidence whatsoever, and Humbert eventually fires him.

By now it is becoming clear to Humbert that he may never find Lolita. He sinks into despair, dreaming disordered dreams that combine Lolita with Valeria and Charlotte, his two former wives. He digs all of Lolita’s magazines out of his car and gets rid of them. He finds it harder to give up her possessions, and he repeatedly finds himself crying over her old sneakers and T-shirts. Eventually he realizes that he is going mad, so he packs up her things and donates them to an orphanage. He checks himself into a mental hospital, where he broods and composes long poems about Lolita.

Humbert Humbert’s essential nature has not changed, so he still craves sexual experiences with children. He lurks at the edges of schools and on beaches, where he gawks at the girls, as he used to do before he met Lolita. No longer does he imagine stealing a girl and running away. Lolita has cured him of that. However, his body is accustomed to constant sexual release, and he has to fulfill his needs somehow. Eventually he meets a woman, Rita.