Chapters 67-68 Summary

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When Humbert arrives at Quilty’s house, he finds the place lit up, with many cars out front. He stops and thinks for a while, imagining a debauched orgy within. Eventually he decides that he should not make a move with so many people around. Slowly he drives back to town, marveling that life is still going on around him. Lolita is gone forever, and Humbert is about to kill her former lover—but somehow moths keep flying into his headlights, and people keep watching movies at the drive-in.

After a sleepless night, Humbert takes a few precautions to make sure that he does not fail at his quest. He oils his gun so that it will be sure to fire. He replaces the bullets in case the last batch has “gone stale” in the week since he bought them. Finally he wraps the gun in a cloth and drives back to Grimm Road. The house looks fuzzy, and the ground feels “springy and insecure” under his feet. As he approaches the front door, he decides that he has overdone his attempts to steel himself with alcohol.

Humbert rings the bell, and nobody answers. However, the door opens when he touches it. He walks inside and begins to search for Quilty. The place seems empty, aside from the mess left over from last night’s party. Deciding that his victim must be out for a walk, Humbert walks around removing keys from the various bedroom doors. This, he reasons, will prevent his victim from locking himself safely inside an empty room.

Eventually Quilty wanders out of a bathroom. He is obviously under the effects of some drug, and he completely fails to notice Humbert, who follows him down the stairs and into the parlor. There Quilty finally says, “Now who are you?” He makes several lighthearted jokes, continuing them even when Humbert pulls the gun.

Humbet is determined to make sure that Quilty understands the gravity of the situation. He explains that he is taking revenge over Lolita. When this does not change his victim’s glib mood, Humbert points his gun at the man’s foot and fires. He shoots a hole in the carpet, and Quilty tells him to be more careful. Then Quilty suggests that Humbert have a drink instead of committing murder.

By now Quilty does seem to realize that Humbert is serious. He leaps up and manages to knock the gun to the floor. The two of them fight clumsily, two educated nerds whose brains and bodies are addled by alcohol and drugs. Humbert ultimately wins the struggle, and then he and Quilty face off, panting.

Humbert orders Quilty to read a poem aloud. It is all about how Quilty took advantage of Humbert and Lolita. As he reads, Quilty stops now and then to compliment or criticize various lines. Afterward, he delivers a long speech about how murder is a ridiculous idea. He offers to buy Humbert off with everything he can imagine anyone might want: money, his house, a girl with three breasts, and so on.

Quilty is still talking when Humbert fires the gun again. He hits a chair, and Quilty flees the room. Humbert follows and shoots a third time, finally hitting his victim in the side. He pursues Quilty through the house, shooting again and again, sometimes making contact. Eventually Quilty runs screaming upstairs, where he tries unsuccessfully to climb out a window. Ultimately he gives up and just lies down in bed. There Humbert shoots him yet again, from up close this time.

When Quilty goes quiet, Humbert feels too spent and disgusted even...

(This entire section contains 742 words.)

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to go check if the man is dead. He writes:

Far from feeling any relief, a burden even weightier than the one I had hoped to get rid of was with me, upon me, over me.

He washes his hands and gets up to leave. On his way out, he is amazed to find that his victim’s friends have arrived and started a party downstairs. He informs them that he has murdered Quilty, and the friends assume that he is kidding. “Good for you,” one of them says. Moments later, one of them shouts at Quilty to come downstairs. Quilty crawls out of his bedroom and collapses, but his friends do not appear worried. Apparently they have seen him pass out on the floor before. They go on with their party. Humbert gives up and leaves.

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