Shifting gears, this whole passage is filled with the foreboding idea of omens, played up with words. Humbert’s referrals to different gas stations as “the sign of the Conch”, and “sign of the Pegasus” are a funny jab at American consumerism, by taking these logos and equalizing them with Zodiac symbols or Year-of –the-Rat-type ancient stuff, while also invites them to omen-like status. When H.H. says the gods have decided “here John shall always stumble, there shall Jane’s heart always break”, he brings up his belief again that everyone is susceptible to “McFate”, and that his task it to thwart him. All of these references to fate interest me, because Humbert’s writing shows that he believes you can’t escape your destiny, but he still avoids all these places “where it might catch”, as though he can. Another part of the passage I want to call attention to comes from Humbert’s description of the scene he surveys while waiting for Lolita to come return from the bathroom. He mentions the ice box, the junk, the trash, and then the music coming from the radio inside. He writes:
“because the rhythm was not synchronized with the heave and flutter and other gestures of wind-animated vegetation, one had the impression of an old scenic film living out its own life while a piano or fiddle followed a line of music quite outside the shivering flower, swaying branch. The sound of Charlotte’s last sob incongruously vibrated through me…”
I couldn’t figure out the Charlotte-shudder until I realized that she is “the old film”- staged, false, and rehearsed. Humbert on the other hand is the fiddle/piano playing out his own unsynchronized rhythm: He plotted getting to Lo through her mother while Charlotte carried on.
The last part of the passage I want to mention is when Lo comes back from the other gas station. The book reads:
“The sign said they were proud of their home clean restrooms. These prepaid postcards, they said, had been provided for your comments. No postcards. No soap. Nothing. No comments.” In his typical fancy prose style, Humbert shows that Lolita is being sparse with her information with the “No comments”, while managing to bring in some of her childishness: of course she would find the idea of the cards worth mentioning.