The prosecution led off their case with a parade of witnesses, all of whom had stayed with us that week in Winthrop, each of them testifying to Denny’s inappropriate flirtatious manner and his predator-like stalking of Annika. Yes, they agreed, she was playing the game with him, but she was a child! (“As was Lolita!” Spencer Tracy might have shouted.) Denny was an intelligent, strong, good-looking man, the witnesses said, and should have known better. One by one, they depicted a world in which Denny maneuvered sneakily in order to be with Annika, to brush against her, to hold her hand illicitly. Each convincing witness was followed by another even more convincing, and another after that. Until, finally, the alleged victim herself was called to take the stand.

(Garth Stein, The Art of Racing in the Rain)

I know what the highlighted phrase means from the storybook, Lolita. But I don’t find any film that Spencer Tracy was casted into. Is it famous words? Whoever knows from where it comes?

  • 1
    Check this out: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lolita. I remember I watched the movie once. Must be this version: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lolita_(1997_film). Commented Nov 26, 2013 at 9:12
  • @DamkerngT. No, Spencer Tracy is not in there.
    – Listenever
    Commented Nov 26, 2013 at 9:25
  • This does not appear to be an English question. As it has gotten significant attention at this point, though, and no close votes, I wonder if perhaps others could weigh in with their thoughts?
    – WendiKidd
    Commented Nov 30, 2013 at 2:32
  • @WendiKidd Sometimes understanding an English sentence means understanding cultural allusions. I think it's fairly asked and answered.
    – Jay
    Commented May 10, 2016 at 13:11

2 Answers 2


The Spencer Tracy remark has nothing to do with Lolita, and does not imply any connection between the two. Spencer Tracy was a famous actor who played a lawyer in a number of roles, often taking an impassioned and aggressive defense of his clients - even those in the wrong - and with a penchant for interrupting others with good counterexamples when they made statements for the prosecution.


As you rightly point out, Lolita refers to the book of the same name.

The sentence therefore means that a great defense attorney who was impassioned, capable, and willing to defend his clients even in the face of sustained opposition and the law, would perhaps have pointed out that when the jury said "but she was only a girl!", he would have brought to their attention that Lolita was also "just a girl" in defense of his client.


The text doesn't imply that Spencer Tracy or Denny had any personal contact to Lolita at all.

The main point about the character Lolita is her agressive sexual behaviour towards older men, forcing them into a situation of being attracted to her, not as a predator but as a victim.

"As was Lolita" here seems to be a short form of explaining:

"Not all children are innocent per se, some do want that attention and act on it."

A poor defense in a child abuse case, I think.

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