We had been everywhere. We had really seen nothing. And I catch myself thinking today that our long journey had only defiled with a sinuous trail of slime the lovely, trustful, dreamy, enormous country, that, by then, in retrospect, was no more than a collection of dog-eared maps, ruined tour books, old tires and her sobs in the night—every night, every night—the moment I feigned sleep.

This passage, the last paragraph in Part Two, Chapter 3, beautifully summarizes Humbert’s confused relations with his adopted country and his troubling relationship with Lolita. Humbert is overtly critical of the vulgarity and the transience of American popular culture. He despises Charlotte’s puritan values and constantly attempts to educate Lolita in the higher arts. However, despite his condemnation of American culture, Humbert, like many expatriates, is also enamored of America, of its size and youth and natural beauty. He finds himself contemptuous of America because of his intellectual superiority, yet drawn to the confidence of the American personality. Ultimately, Humbert’s desire for Lolita blinds him to everything else. The tour across the country was only a series of destinations to keep Lolita happy and compliant. With every marked stop, Humbert becomes more and more like the gum-chewing, superficial tourists he despises. The travels neither enrich nor enlighten Lolita and Humbert. They are merely wandering, and Humbert realizes what a wasted opportunity their trip was.

In this section, the reader gets a glimpse of the new, monstrous Humbert, who is capable of great evil in his quest to possess Lolita. Humbert had already planned despicable acts, such as marrying Charlotte to be near Lolita and giving Lolita sleeping pills in order to fondle her, but he had always tried not to cross the line and rob Lolita of her childhood. Now even her sobs, which clearly hurt him, cannot turn him from his purpose of keeping Lolita to himself. He has her under his control and has no knowledge of who the real Lolita is—Humbert is ultimately blind to Lolita, and willfully so. Humbert does not become a villain because of his awareness that his desire controls him, the secret shame of his desires, and he knows, somehow, that Lolita will never understand or return his love. He fools himself into believing that he is “showing Lolita a good time,” even though he knows that his desire will destroy them both.