Mrs. Schuet's AP Literature Class of '16 discussion

Lolita
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Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

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message 1: by Heather (new)

Heather | 1 comments Seeing as how the speaker, in his lifetime, has had numerous losses of female presences such as his mother and his girlfriend, his desire for younger girls may be explained by his need to preserve his memories of that time. His girlfriend from his younger years dies, and his current longing for an intimate relationship is similar to the age period he had that connection with her. He was so deep in love that he wants to replicate that feeling regardless of the fact that he has physically moved on because he has grown up.


Jacqueline Escalera | 4 comments Heather wrote: "Seeing as how the speaker, in his lifetime, has had numerous losses of female presences such as his mother and his girlfriend, his desire for younger girls may be explained by his need to preserve ..."

Heather,
I agree with you that the speaker's childhood lover, Annabel, led to his desire for "nymphets." Humbert even seems to address that she is the reason for his peculiar interests, yet he follows up by stating that he still does not know the exact cause of his present situation. Why do you think Humbert feels that his strange desire might not be due to his relationship with Annabel?


Jacqueline Escalera | 4 comments I chose this book because I enjoy romantic novels, and Lolita is a dark twist on that genre. Instead of a typical romantic relationship between two partners of relatively same age, the protagonist is over ten years older than his lover. I am currently on page 20, and have just finished chapter 5. So far the protagonist, Humbert Humbert, has given the reader a bit of background on his life, as well as a forewarning of the darkness of his story. He lost his mother when he was very young in a "freak accident," and his father does not pay much attention to him since he runs a large fancy hotel. Humbert, as a child, preoccupied himself with his young lover, Annabel. He details the sexual tension between them, as they were capable of feeling adult-love, but their bodies were not capable for "mating." After Humbert and Annabel go to what we assume as "2nd base," Annabel dies a few months later. Throughout college, Humbert paid prostitutes to fulfill his body's needs, but it felt wrong to him because he was not attracted to woman of his age. He describes "nymphets," or young girls who fascinate his soul. He makes a profound statement that one must be an "artist and a madman," in order to pick out these nymphets from society's grasp.

My first impressions of the book were that of strange curiosity. In current society, Humbert would be seen as a pedophile, however his past events throughout his life clearly have a strong correlation with who he is now. There is almost a sense of sympathy felt towards him, as well as a fondness towards the fact that he does not wish to ruin these young girl's innocence.


message 4: by Alexis (new) - added it

Alexis Lopez | 5 comments Humbert is the way he is because of a relationship left without closure when he was younger (Annabel), and so he seeks other girls who are as old as she was when she passed. However, judging by the way he describes "nymphets" and how he speaks of them, ask yourself if he is truly in love with Dolores.


message 5: by Alexis (new) - added it

Alexis Lopez | 5 comments Also, now that I think about it, Humbert is kind of like Othello in a different sense. Humbert is insecure about himself and seeks validation through other people. Only in Humbert's case, he does it by manipulating young girls. Okay, maybe they're not so similar. But they're both insecure.


message 6: by Jessica (last edited Dec 07, 2015 09:26PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jessica Lara (jlara2412) | 4 comments Alexis wrote: "Humbert is the way he is because of a relationship left without closure when he was younger (Annabel), and so he seeks other girls who are as old as she was when she passed. However, judging by the..."

I somewhat see what you're saying. I remember we spoke about fatal heroes not being able to see their own flaws... I think similar to Othello's jealousy which his is unaware of but ends up kills him, it's ironic that Humbert seems to be drawn to the purity that Lolita holds, when his sexuality could be seen as quite the opposite.


Jessica Lara (jlara2412) | 4 comments a. I chose Lolita because I enjoy books that explore the human psyche. I love when a book brings fourth a character you may morally disagree with, but somehow their logic is still reasonable. The book takes you inside the mind of a pedophile, a sexuality I do not believe is ok, but I know that the author will make me try to understand the character's mind set.
b. My first note about the book is that I was surprised by the reasoning behind Humbert's attraction for Lolita. His attraction is not purely sexual, as we usually assume with pedophilia, but instead stems from the loss of his first love during Lolita's age.


Jessica Lara (jlara2412) | 4 comments Page 17. Refers to his sexuality and anyone who shares it as not "normal" and "a madman," along with some other things. Seems like at this point in the novel, while reflecting, there's some self hatred going on. I predict Lolita is not going to reciprocate his sexual attraction and therefore regret his advances.


Katie (ktwingrove) | 5 comments Definitely be aware the significance of the different settings throughout the book. For example, the beginning of the book is set in Paris, which is also known as the city of love. In the city of love, he meets his first love who is arguably he is love he truly feels. Additionally, he later moves to America, which is seen as a land of hope and opportunity. I saw as his hope for a new life away from Valeria and the troubles he found in Europe.


message 10: by Madison (new)

Madison Kaeding | 4 comments Alexis wrote: "Humbert is the way he is because of a relationship left without closure when he was younger (Annabel), and so he seeks other girls who are as old as she was when she passed. However, judging by the..."

Could Humbert be suffering from PTSD from losing Annabel? His way of coping is by seeking out "nymphets". I this this is possible because often when people have PTSD, they regress to the way they were when the traumatic event happened. This would explain why he chooses younger girls the same age as Annabel. Just a theory to think about.


Logan | 6 comments Jessica wrote: "His attraction is not purely sexual, as we usually assume with pedophilia, but instead stems from the loss of his first love during Lolita's age. "

I was initially also surprised by this. It's interesting to see throughout the book how his love/lust evolves. At times he's clearly feeling one or the other, although sometimes it's much less clear. This continuum reveals a huge amount about Humbert and his motivations towards the end of the book.


Jacqueline Escalera | 4 comments Jessica wrote: "a. I chose Lolita because I enjoy books that explore the human psyche. I love when a book brings fourth a character you may morally disagree with, but somehow their logic is still reasonable. The b..."

I agree with you and how you feel - that Humbert is not as scary as a pedophile, but rather pitied on. On page 19, Humbert even states, "But let us be prim and civilized. Humbert Humbert tried hard to be good. Really and truly, he did." He even attempts to settle down and lead a normal life, and hasn't yet harmed a young nymphet. I'd like to open a discussion question based on this: What literary devices and/or writing techniques does the author use in order to evoke feelings of sympathy out of the reader instead of judgmental and disgusted ones towards Humbert?


Jacqueline Escalera | 4 comments Katie wrote: "Definitely be aware the significance of the different settings throughout the book. For example, the beginning of the book is set in Paris, which is also known as the city of love. In the city of l..."

Katie, great catch on the significance of setting! As I read the chapters which illustrated his time spent in Paris, and his efforts to move to California, I found a quote that backs up your thoughts. On page 27, Humbert says, "(...) I came to live in the States and showed some interest in his business. This prospect was most welcome to me. I felt my life needed a shake-up (...) moth holes had appeared in the plush of matrimonial comfort." Diction such as "interest," "prospect," "welcome," and "shake-up," can all be tied to the idea many foreigners had of America - hope. When people wanted, "shake-up(s)" in their life, they often moved to the States, and especially California which was depicted as a fertile and a sunshine-go-lucky. Furthermore, the visual imagery of moths creating holes in Humbert's "matrimonial comfort," depicts a static and monotonous cycle of life; a life that Humbert must suppress his true self in. Question: Will America fulfill the hopes he has?


Jessica Lara (jlara2412) | 4 comments I can't seem to be able to respond to JJ's comment, but JJ asked how Humbert's rhetoric evokes sympathy and understanding from the reader.
I believe that Humbert's slight disappointment in himself is genuine. The key is that he speaks of his love for Lolita because it has already happened. We are reading his reiteration of thoughts he had already had. By this time if feels as if he's been able to reflect, he's had time to feel guilty. I believe the harsh diction with which he chooses to describe himself is not fake, but instead used to emphasize his guilt and regret.


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