The next day Tom moves hotels. In his new room, he holds “imaginary conversations” with Fausto, Freddie, and Marge—practicing his imitation of Dickie, in case any one of them calls him on the phone. He practices “jumping into his own character again,” noting that he has already begun to forget “the exact timbre of Tom Ripley’s voice.”
As Tom slides deeper and deeper into the “character” of Dickie, he is careful to try not to lose himself fully. Tom has already forgotten the sound of his own voice, demonstrating his hollow and completely unformed identity and sense of self.
Tom goes out to sightsee and look at apartments—it is “impossible ever to be lonely or bored so long as he is Dickie Greenleaf.” He collects Dickie’s mail at American Express—there is a letter from Marge, in which she denounces Tom, telling Dickie she believes Tom is “using” him, has a “bad influence” on him, and “isn’t normal enough to have any kind of sex life.”
The letter from Marge, though it should hurt Tom, just amuses him—he still feels that he’s won, and that her protestations against him can do absolutely nothing to harm him. As far as she’s concerned, Tom and Dickie are happy together, and her anger has no effect on that imagined bliss.
Tom writes a letter to Herbert and Emily Greenleaf as Dickie, telling them he is looking for an apartment in Rome and will be studying with Di Massimo. He also asks Herbert to send along some files from the shipbuilding business so that he can “keep up.”
Tom is widening the reach of his invented story about Dickie’s plans, and also infiltrating the Greenleaf family business in case becoming more involved suits him later on.
Tom leaves for Paris, delighted at the chance to finally see the city. Once there, he falls in love with the atmosphere of the city, and is thrilled by the idea that, while sitting at a café, someone might recognize him as Dickie. He thinks of “tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow being Dickie Greenleaf,” relishing his possession of Dickie’s things and persona—and Dickie’s money.
Tom has longed to visit Paris since arriving in Europe, and the chance to experience it as Dickie is a joy beyond his wildest dreams. His bright future stretches ahead of him, and he feels complete bliss in having abandoned his own identity and taken on Dickie’s.
Tom is invited to a party by some people he met at a café, and he is delighted to be able to “behave as he had always wanted to behave at a party” and to have a “clean slate” and an “annihilation of his past and of himself.” As he leaves the party, he realizes it has been over a month since Freddie Miles’s party at Cortina passed by, and he forgot to write to decline Freddie’s invitation. After leaving Paris, Tom visits Lyon, Arles, Marseille, Cannes, Nice, and Monte Carlo. Though it is winter, and grey and dark, Tom delights in the “romance” and “disappointment” of each place he visits.
When Tom returns to Rome, a letter from Marge is waiting, saying that she is departing Europe in early March and plans to send her unfinished book to a publisher. Tom returns her letter as Dickie, telling her that “Tom Ripley” has left Europe. He says that he—Dickie—is still hunting for an apartment (another lie, since he has already found one.) Another letter arrives from one of Dickie’s acquaintances in Mongibello, informing “Dickie” that three pieces of furniture have sold and a prospective buyer for the boat has arisen. Tom celebrates by taking himself to an elegant dinner. He plans to open a bank account in Tom Ripley’s name and to put a little bit of money in it “from time to time.” “After all,” he thinks, he has “two people to take care of.”
Tom delights in Marge’s leaving Europe—he sees it as her having given up and admitted defeat. He is careful not to let her know where he’s living, though, always one step ahead of everyone around him. With the news of Dickie’s furniture and boat selling, it seems as if Tom’s luck will never run out—he now has security, an income, and complete and total freedom. The thought of “taking care” of Tom Ripley, though, still holds some allure, and for the first time Tom acknowledges his burgeoning ability to exist in two identities at once.