"For the fourth time in as many years, they were confronted with the problem of what birthday present to take to a young man who was incurably deranged in his mind. Desires he had none. Man-made objects were to him either hives of evil, vibrant with a malignant activity that he alone could perceive, or gross comforts for which no use could be found in his abstract world. After eliminating a number of articles that might offend him or frighten him (anything in the gadget line, for instance, was taboo), his parents chose a dainty and innocent trifle—a basket with ten different fruit jellies in ten little jars."
"Some critics argue that Nabokov, planting patterned, symbolically charged details, deliberately entraps the reader of "Signs and Symbols" into a sort of over-interpretation similar to the "referential mania" of the insane character, making us read the story as if everything in it were a cipher. Yet the idea of seeing a model for the reader's response in the boy's pan-semiotic approach to reality, however tempting, should be rejected from the very start for several simple reasons."