Wednesday, April 1, 2009

"...and the brand of the candy."

I did the bit starting at the very bottom of 164 going through the top of 166.

The passage as a whole is about Humbert's mornings with Lolita--the naked lounging, the coffee, the ignored "ecstasy"--and also one morning in particular where they read a safety column together. It echoes a theme that occurs throughout the book--a juxtaposition of the power Humbert has over Lolita with the power she holds over him; this is an adult holding a child hostage in no typical way, but it is still so.

It begins with his joy in taking care of her, moving quickly to his desire to caress and kiss her internal organs. He's completely held captive. She ignores his "ecstasy" while he ponders her "comely twin kidneys." She reads comics and he is fascinated by every detail of how she does so. Something like a fly, usually disgusting, takes on a whole new purpose when it lands near her navel or her "tender pale areolas." Yet, none of this happens until Loilta "had done her morning duty."

In a brilliant and funny way, Humbert turns the scene of admiration around completely. The two begin to read a coulmn together which talks about how children might escape or avoid child molesters. In the midst of this discussion, Humbert refers to his cheek as the pursuant to her cheek's recedent. I thought it was curious he didn't use more aggressive words like predator and prey or perhaps captor and captive. That he didn't shows his delusion regarding the situation and one of the reasons Lolita maintains some form of power at all: he does not view what he's doing as predatory.

He tries to be clever as she's reading and she shuts him down with an interruption. It's just as well, though. He gets the last laugh of the morning with his chilling statement and reclaim of power, "With your little claws, Lolita."

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