How can a reader tell what is the truth and what is a lie? It's especially difficult when the narrator suffers from hallucinations and illusions of grandeur. In the book Lolita, Humbert Humbert, a notoriously unreliable narrator, uses rhetoric, outright deception and the withholding of information to manipulate the reader into feeling pity and sympathy for him in an effort to avoid capital punishment. Humbert's point of view is the only one given throughout the story. So much of what he says must be taken as the writings of a criminal, madman, psychopath or genius.
Humbert seems to want the reader to believe he is simply a mentally ill man who could not handle the great love he felt for Lolita even though it is against the laws of man. Humbert gives the reader a plethora of excuses, hypothetical situations, and tu quoque fallacies in an effort to explain his habit of child molestation and incest. Humbert talks about Dolores Haze constantly during the book. The book even opens with the sentence "Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins" in place of any sort of formal introduction from the first person narrator (Nabakov 1; bk. 1, ch. 1). Humbert's character genuinely seems to enjoy talking about Lolita. He talks about her personality and body so much that he appears to be truly neurotic, which is his ultimate goal. "On the other hand, if we read the novel critically, we might say that the narrator does not exactly want us to be interested in narrative (and moral) problems. He wants us to accept his interpretation of his own life" (Thomieres 165). Humbert wants the audience to judge him more favorably in spite of his misdeeds of murder and child molestation. "Ladies and gentlemen of the jury" says Humbert, calling on the audience to judge his innocence or guilt (Nabakov 1; bk. 1, ch. 1). This plea, however seems to be less about Humbert's legal troubles and more about the forgiveness of his sins.