Chapters 63-64 Summary
Humbert drives away from Lolita, heading for the small town of Ramsdale where she grew up. He examines the map and sees that all the natural highway routes will force him on long drives that take him well out of the way. He dislikes the idea of a winding route; he wants to hurry through the errands he has in Ramsdale so that he can get on with his revenge. Because of this, he settles on a shortcut which involves a forty-mile stretch of dirt road. Rain is pouring down, and the muddy road is rough. After ten miles, he tries to turn around. He ends up getting stuck and being forced to walk several miles to a nearby farmhouse to call a tow truck.
By the time he gets back to the highway, Humbert is exhausted. He pulls over to rest, drinking from his flask and staring blearily at the sleepy small town around him. For a while, instead of thinking about Lolita, he pays attention to his surroundings, reading the signs on the garbage cans and in the store windows. Ultimately, however, he cannot ignore his feelings. He is not far from the Enchanted Hunters. He begins to cry again.
On the side of the road in this small town, Humbert considers what he has done. For the first time, he thinks about himself and Lolita “with the utmost simplicity and clarity,” and without all of the distractions he has had in the past. He has tried seeking forgiveness through religion, and he really respects a certain priest who comforted him and tried to teach him about absolution. However, he feels that his own sin is too great to be forgivable. Humbert writes, “Nothing could make my Lolita forget the foul lust I...inflicted upon her.” He took her childhood away for his own pleasure, and he cannot be forgiven, not unless someone can prove that the harm he did to her does not matter. And if something like that does not matter, then nothing matters.
Humbert has no consolation. Once in a while, he forgets himself for a brief moment when he is surrounded by beautiful words. Art ultimately does not solve the problems he has created, but it is the only thing that can dull the pain of his guilt. Because of this, he repeats the words of a poem:
The moral sense in mortals is the duty
We have to pay on mortal sense of beauty.