Vladimir Nabokov

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Lolita: Part 1, Chapter 28 Summary & Analysis

As he waits for Lolita to fall asleep, Humbert Humbert walks through the hotel. He reaches a pinnacle of happiness as he realizes that Lolita is finally his. He enjoys feeling the key to the room in his pocket. Humbert pauses in his narrative to justify himself to his readers: he explains that he planned to “spare [Lolita’s] purity,” by only molesting her in her sleep. He also argues that Lolita was not an innocent, but already sexually corrupt.
As he nears the point in the story where he does the most wrong (rapes Lolita), Humbert begins to defend himself more and more. He usually does this by casting doubt on Lolita’s sexual “innocence”; by suggesting that she might have started it, which does not legally or morally relieve him of responsibility for taking care of a minor to whom he should have been a guardian and protector. Keys have significance as a sexual symbol. Humbert holds the “key,” to Lolita’s “lock”—he now has her trapped, under his physical control.
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Humbert visits the hotel porch, where he has a strange conversation with a man sitting in the dark. The man seems to suggest that the real relationship between Humbert and Lolita is not quite what it seems. He invites the two of them to lunch, but Humbert refuses.
This man later turns out to be Clare Quilty, Humbert’s nemesis. He recognizes that Humbert is a pedophile, most probably because he is one himself.
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