Summary: Chapter 12
After Lolita recovers from an illness, Humbert allows her to throw a small party with boys. The party isn’t a success, and the boys don’t impress Lolita, which is such a relief for Humbert that he buys her a new tennis racket. For her birthday, he buys her a bicycle and a book of modern American paintings, and while he enjoys watching her ride the bike, he remains disappointed by her inability to appreciate fine art.
Summary: Chapter 13
Lolita begins rehearsing for a play entitled The Enchanted Hunters, in which she plays a farmer’s daughter who bewitches a number of hunters. Humbert notes that the play has the same name as the hotel he and Lolita first stayed in, but he doesn’t think much of it. He also doesn’t mention the coincidence to Lolita, for fear that she’ll mock him and his nostalgia. At the time, Humbert assumes the play is nothing more than a trifling work written specifically for schoolchildren. He tells the reader that he now knows the play to be a recent composition, written by a noted playwright. Humbert scoffs at the play’s overt romanticism and fantasy. One day, as Lolita rides her bike, she teasingly asks Humbert if the Enchanted Hunters was, in fact, the name of the hotel where he first raped her.
Summary: Chapter 14
Some days later, Humbert becomes outraged when he gets a call from Lolita’s piano teacher, who tells him that Lolita has been missing her lessons. When confronted, Lolita claims she has been rehearsing for the play in a local park. Lolita’s friend Mona corroborates the story, but Humbert assumes both girls are lying. While Humbert and Lolita discuss the issue heatedly, he realizes that she’s changed and possesses fewer nymphet qualities. Humbert panics and threatens to take her away from Beardsley if she continues lying. Lolita becomes furious, and they have a loud, angry fight in which she accuses him of violating her and murdering her mother. Humbert grabs her by the wrist and attempts to restrain her. Just then, a neighbor calls to complain about the noise, and as Humbert apologizes, Lolita escapes from the house. Humbert drives around looking for her and finally finds her in a telephone booth. Lolita tells Humbert that she hates the school and the play and wants to leave Beardsley, but only if they go where she wants to go. Relieved, Humbert agrees to her demands. At home, Lolita tells Humbert to carry her upstairs, as she’s feeling romantic. Humbert confesses that this brought him to tears.
Summary: Chapter 15
Humbert tells the school that he’s been hired as a consultant for a movie in Hollywood, but promises to return. Excited to be traveling again, Lolita plans out where they’ll go and where they’ll stay. As they’re driving away from the town, Edusa Gold, the acting coach, pulls up alongside them in her car. She says it’s a shame Lolita couldn’t finish the play, since the playwright himself was so taken with her. As Edusa drives off, Humbert asks Lolita who wrote the play. Lolita tells him it was some old woman, “Clare Something.” With that, Humbert and Lolita start their travels.
Summary: Chapter 16
Humbert and Lolita stay in a succession of hotels. Humbert keeps a very close watch on Lolita, to keep her from communicating with anyone he doesn’t know. However, Lolita occasionally manages to disappear, even under Humbert’s watchful eye. She changes her mind often about their destinations, sometimes wanting to stay on for no apparent reason. One day, Humbert goes out but suddenly feels nervous, and he returns to the hotel room to find Lolita completely dressed. Humbert’s suspicions, while still vague, grow stronger.
Summary: Chapter 17
Humbert secretly keeps a gun that belonged to Lolita’s father and stands guard with it at night. He reminds the reader that, in Freudian analysis, a gun represents the father’s phallus.