The next morning, Tom wakes up thinking of Marge. He has a “horrible premonition” that she is bound for Rome. The phone rings—there are two policemen downstairs, and Tom instructs the concierge to send them up. The police, interviewing “Dickie,” ask him if he is aware of the whereabouts of Tom Ripley. They think he may be dead, and they ask “Dickie” if he saw Tom following their trip to San Remo. “Dickie” insists that he saw Tom once again in Rome, remembering that Marge knew he went back to Rome after collecting Dickie’s things in Mongibello. The police continue to interrogate “Dickie,” while Tom tries to stay ahead of their many questions. He tells the police that Tom did not have many friends and that he himself “doesn’t even know him very well.” Tom asks the police if he is free to leave for Palermo that afternoon, and gives them the name of the hotel he plans to stay at. He tells them to notify them if they find “Tom Ripley.”
Tom’s fears are well-founded—with the arrival of the Roman police, Tom is put on the defensive. His charade as Dickie seems in danger of falling apart, as the police inquire as to the whereabouts of Tom Ripley, unable to turn him up anywhere since after the date of the boat trip. Tom experiences a revelatory moment in which he observes himself from the outside; someone unknowable, someone with very few friends, someone with absolutely no support.
The phone rings, and Tom answers it—it’s Marge. He tells her that he is getting dressed and Dickie is out at the police station, answering some questions. He tells her to wait for him inside a bar called Angelo’s and that he’ll be down in a few minutes. Tom finishes packing and pays his hotel bill, telling the clerk to tell anyone who asks for him that he’s left the city.
Tom narrowly avoids Marge as he escapes to Palermo—like Fausto, she is another symbol of the difficulty he will have in abandoning the trappings of Dickie’s old life in order to make a new one for himself.