Vladimir Nabokov

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Lolita: Part 1, Chapter 16 Summary & Analysis

As Charlotte drives Lolita to Camp Q, Humbert Humbert dashes off to look through his nymphet’s underwear. In her room, he discovers two posters: one from an advertisement, with his name written next to a handsome male face, and another depicting a famous playwright, Clare Quilty. His snooping is interrupted by a call from the maid, Louise, the only other person left in the house. Louise gives Humbert a long, rambling love letter from Charlotte, which instructs him to leave the house unless he reciprocates her feelings and wishes to marry her, and also to act as Lolita’s father.
Quilty’s poster and Humbert’s name appear next to one another in Lolita’s bedroom. This foreshadows the final confrontation between Humbert and Quilty their rivalry and similarity regarding their passion for Lolita. Charlotte’s love letter is another event in the series of freak accidents—or twists of fate—that allow Humbert to become Lolita’s guardian. The exaggerated passion of the letter continues the parody of romantic stories which began in Chapter 11.
Perversity, Obsession, and Art Theme Icon
Suburbia and American Consumer Culture Theme Icon
Life and Literary Representation Theme Icon
Women, Innocence, and Male Fantasy Theme Icon
Patterns, Memory and Fate Theme Icon