Pale Fire Stanza Assignment

Pale Fire Stanza and Commentary

And so transcended this earth, my tender mockingbird
Who with her absence the preterists stirred
My morose, and dingy cygnet a wood duck would never be
And the grey, bent watchman the gentle charwoman could not free

First line: The narrator refers to birds quite a bit in the poem, both literally and through the characterization of his parents as ornithologists/’preterists’, specifically ‘tender mockingbird’ (line 422, pg. 48)

Second line: After discussing his parents jobs and interests, the narrator defines the term ‘preterists’ as ‘one who collects cold nests’, so I chose to include the mention of the ‘preterists stirring’ to refer to how those who collect ‘cold nests’ now have the chance to collect the narrator’s daughter’s empty, and cold absence, which in a way resembles a nest since she was often characterized in a bird-like way (line 79, pg. 35)

Third line: The narrator compared his daughter’s beauty to the ugly duckling, saying she would never be pretty; specifically calls her a “dingy cygnet” (line 318, pg. 44)

Fourth line: There is a consistent theme of time and space in the poem, and the narrator refers to both Father Time and Mother Time a couple of times. Father Time was described as the watchman who couldn’t save the narrator’s daughter before she drowned herself. Further, the narrator’s daughter once played Mother Time in a play, but as a “charwoman”—like a janitor—who was old, “bent”, and purposefully ugly (line 312, pg. 44 “charwoman” and line 475, pg. 50, “watchman”)

Fetishization and Neglect in the Image of Lolita

I have been trying to note every moment in the story, in which Humbert refers to Lolita in a way that describes the contours, colors, and anatomy of her body, and frankly, I have lost count. This theme is accompanied by many fetishizing characterizations of Lolita’s body, all of which seem to be trying to present Lolita in a unique and exotic way.  I believe this exoticizing effort stems from Humbert’s understanding of pre-pubescent bodies to be ‘rare’ and ‘untouchable’, inspiring him to present Lolita in an orientalist-like fashion.  Lolita’s skin color, a rosy, honey-golden, is often contrasted with pale parts of her body, most notably her breasts. Further, Humbert describes Lolita in a way that emphasizes her boney structure, referring constantly to her hips, shoulder blades, collar/cheekbones, and vertebras. This created an image in my mind that depicted Lolita as an emaciated, unevenly-tanned young girl who looked as though she had been malnourished, over-worked, and generally pitiful. I immediately was reminded of this Gauguin painting called ‘The Breton Boy’ (1889), which depicts a similarly boney, discolored, young person, albeit a boy, laying motionless in a field, mainly because Gauguin was notorious for painting young girls and boys relaxing in the nude. Continue reading