Vladimir Nabokov

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Lolita: Part 2, Chapter 17 Summary & Analysis

Growing suspicious of Lolita and the plan of the trip she has made, Humbert decides to stay at the Chestnut Court motel for another night. He feels that his fate is somehow closing in on him, but reassures himself by checking on his gun, which once belonged to Harold Haze. He sarcastically remarks that the gun is “the Freudian symbol of the Ur-father’s central forelimb.” He complains that he’s a terrible shot, but mentions that he had some practice shooting with John Farlow in Ramsdale.
Through Humbert’s relationship with Harold Haze’s gun, Nabokov is mocking psychoanalysis, which makes a symbolic connection between guns and male genitals. He doesn’t intend for this connection to be taken seriously, and presents it in order to make fun of it. Once again, Humbert views “Fate,” as a shadowy force which is plotting his downfall. He tells his story as though aware that he is a character in a novel. Humbert’s bad shooting with Farlow foreshadows his final gunfight with Quilty, in which he will miss many times.
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