Humbert Humbert returns to Ramsdale. Ghostlike, he haunts the places he used to frequent when he was a lodger at the Haze’s. He walks past the house at 342 Lawn, where he says hello to a little girl playing in the yard. The little girl is alarmed, and Humbert realizes that he looks haggard and frightening, with dirty clothes, an unshaven face, and bloodshot eyes.
Like Humbert the narrator, Humbert the character is retracing his steps. He has a frightening, ghostly appearance because he is like a ghost in his own memories: reliving the past, but unable to overcome the loss of it. Early in the novel, Humbert’s handsome appearance and superficial charm distracted others from his perverse inner life. Now his outside resembles his inside—he frightens little girls.
While visiting a restaurant he once went to with Charlotte Haze, Humbert runs into Mrs. Chatfield, who all but accuses him of having kidnapped Lolita. He tells her about Lolita’s marriage to Dick, and just to shock her, informs her about Charlie Holmes’ sex with the little girls at Camp Q—perhaps including Mrs. Chatfield’s daughter Phyllis. Mrs. Chatfield, outraged, tells Humbert that Charlie has just been killed by enemy troops in Korea.
When Humbert lived in Ramsdale, his life was an act: he played the role of suburban husband in order to get to Lolita. Now, no longer caring about the consequences of his actions, he can say outrageous, true things. By telling Mrs. Chatfield about the girls at Camp Q, he is challenging the suburban façade of moralism and decency. She of course doesn’t want to hear it. The mention of the Korean war is a rare intrusion of history into Humbert’s narrative. Although his manuscript includes the years of the First and Second World Wars, it only mentions them in brief asides. Humbert’s aestheticism and nymphet-obsession make him careless about historical events.
Humbert proceeds to the office of Jack Windmuller, the lawyer to whom John Farlow had handed over responsibility for the Haze estate. He tells Windmuller about Lolita’s marriage, and arranges for her properties to be transferred to her.
Humbert’s visit to the lawyer reminds us of someone going to make his last will. Knowing that he may die in his confrontation with Quilty, and having no friends or family of his own, he tries to set right some of what he has done wrong by returning the inheritance he took from Lolita after Charlotte’s death.
Finally, Humbert visits the local dentist, Ivor Quilty. Ivor is Clare’s uncle, something Humbert has learned from his conversation with Lolita. After offering to buy a whole new set of teeth, he abruptly announces that he’s changed his mind, and will have another, better dentist do the procedure.
After a lifetime of careful scheming to get what he wants, the despairing Humbert is free to behave without fear of consequences. He plays this mean-spirited joke on the dentist—probably because he is related to Quilty— just for spite. In doing so, he mimics what he imagines to be his own fate—a cruel force which almost gives him what he most desires, only to suddenly take it away.