Upon his release from the sanitarium, Humbert heads for a small town to stay with a Mr. McCoo. A relative of a friend of his uncle’s, McCoo has a twelve-year-old daughter, whom Humbert fantasizes about. When he arrives in the town of Ramsdale, however, he learns that the McCoos’ house has burned down. Mr. McCoo recommends a boarding house at 342 Lawn Street, run by the widowed Mrs. Haze. Neither Mrs. Haze nor the house impress Humbert. He describes her as a fatally conventional woman, one who, despite her so-called cultural and community activities, has many pretensions and little imagination. He realizes with distaste that she will probably try to seduce him. He finds the house horribly unappealing until he sees Mrs. Haze’s twelve-year-old daughter, Dolores, sitting on the lawn. Humbert finds her resemblance to Annabel uncanny and immediately remembers his time with Annabel twenty-five years ago. He decides to stay.
From prison, Humbert recalls passages from his diary regarding the time he lived at the Haze house in 1947 and his initial thoughts of Lolita. Almost all his entries describe encounters with Lolita and contain romantic descriptions of her nymphet qualities, as well as his various attempts to lure her into his presence. Delighted, he learns that he resembles a celebrity Lolita adores, which causes Charlotte to tease Lolita about having a crush on Humbert. Though he knows that he should not be keeping a journal of his attraction, Humbert can’t help himself. He often goes into Lolita’s room and touches her things. He describes Charlotte Haze disdainfully and hates her for always complaining about Lolita. He knows that he must behave himself with Charlotte around, so he daydreams about killing her.
Charlotte, Lolita, and Humbert plan to go to Hourglass Lake for a picnic, but the trip continually gets postponed. Humbert gets a further disappointment when he learns that a classmate of Lolita’s will accompany them. Humbert learns that the previous boarder, elderly Mrs. Phalen, broke her hip and had to leave suddenly, which enabled Humbert to come and live with the Hazes. Humbert expresses amazement at how fate led him here, to his dream nymphet.
One Sunday, when the trip to the lake gets postponed yet again, Lolita becomes angry and refuses to go to church with Charlotte. Delighted, Humbert has Lolita all to himself. When Lolita starts eating an apple, Humbert teasingly takes it away from her. He finally returns it and, as Lolita sings a popular song, discreetly rubs against her until he climaxes. Lolita runs off, apparently without having noticed anything.
Famished, Humbert goes into town for lunch. He feels proud that he managed to satisfy himself without corrupting the child, and he wavers between wanting to repeat the experience and wanting to preserve Lolita’s purity. Later, Charlotte tells Humbert that she is sending Lolita away to summer camp for three weeks. Humbert hides his misery by pretending to have a toothache. Mrs. Haze recommends that he see their neighbor, Dr. Quilty, a dentist and the uncle of a playwright.
Humbert considers leaving the boarding house until Lolita returns in the fall. Lolita doesn’t want to go to camp, but Charlotte dismisses her tears. Humbert muses that Lolita might lose her purity while she’s away and cease to be a nymphet. Just before she enters the car to go to camp, Lolita rushes back and kisses Humbert.