The very next day, Humbert Humbert leaves for “Coalmont,” the town where Lolita and her new husband live, bringing his gun with him. On the way there, he stays one night in a motel. The next morning, he prepares himself physically and psychologically to kill Lolita’s husband, whom he believes must be the man who stole her from him. He dresses well for the occasion, as though preparing for a duel. When he arrives in “Coalmont,” he does a little investigating before finally making his way to the last house on Hunter Road—a sad little shack of a place.
Humbert’s dressy duel preparations are a mark of his fanciful, literary imagination. He is preparing for a confrontation with his rival as elaborate and melodramatic as something out of a nineteenth-century romance. Humbert’s aristocratic imagination clashes with a much more mundane reality: Lolita is living in a small, cheap-looking house, a setting which is hard to square with Humbert’s theatrical dreams of revenge. The smallness of the house hints at what we learn definitively in the next chapter: Lolita has not married Quilty, a rich playwright with a fancy convertible, but rather a humble engineer.