Vladimir Nabokov

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Lolita: Part 2, Chapter 31 Summary & Analysis

At a rest stop between Coalmont and Ramsdale, Humbert Humbert recalls a conversation about religious transcendence he once had with a priest in Quebec. He tries to think about religion, but can find no comfort in it: nothing can erase the damage he inflicted on Lolita’s life. Humbert begins to realize the moral seriousness of what he’s done, and ends the chapter with two lines of verse which meditate on the necessary connection between the moral sense and the sense of beauty.
The relationship between ethics and beauty is one of the central themes of Lolita. One of the main ways Humbert tries to justify his crimes is through the beauty of his writing, as well as the beauty he recognizes in his feelings for Lolita. Humbert concludes that beauty and the moral sense must be connected. But his own novel argues otherwise: it is a beautiful story about an immoral relationship.
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