Back in Beardsley, Humbert Humbert tries to figure out who the kidnapper might be. He thinks he’s narrowed it down to an art teacher at Lolita’s school, but just before deciding to shoot the man, he realizes he’s made a mistake. He also hires a private investigator, a man who spends two years earnestly tracking down one of the kidnapper’s pseudonyms before coming up with an elderly American Indian, who cannot possibly be Lolita’s kidnapper.
Although it’s clear that Lolita escaped by her own choice, Humbert continuously refers to the man she left with as her kidnapper. Ironically, Humbert himself is the only man who has ever kidnapped Lolita. Once again, Humbert is trying to justify his perverse obsession by manipulating the connotations of certain words. Humbert the narrator makes Humbert the character look ridiculous for his failure to correctly identify the kidnapper. Based on the extravagant number of “clues,” he has provided to the reader, it should be painfully obvious that Clare Quilty is responsible. Nabokov is parodying detective novels.