Humbert Humbert leaves Coalmont and drives toward Ramsdale. In a secluded spot along the way, he practices his marksmanship, preparing to confront Quilty. His car gets stuck in the mud of a dirt road, but a wrecker pulls him out. He drives to a nearby town, and sits up in his car all night crying, “drunk on the impossible past.”
With Lolita’s anticlimactic refusal to return, Humbert’s story has in some ways run out of steam. His decision to pursue Quilty is almost a necessity of storytelling: only a dramatic confrontation (which Lolita failed to provide) can equal his powerful feelings of loss. This is both a parody of the way novels “usually work,” and one more example of Humbert’s self-consciously literary view of his own life. Humbert compares his nostalgic tears to drunkenness. This combination highlights two things: the pain of memory, and the intoxication of remembering, both of which are major themes in the novel.