The Talented Mr. Ripley

The Talented Mr. Ripley Chapter 19 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
As Tom’s boat arrives at the dock in Palermo, Tom looks to see if the police are waiting for him, but there are none. He purchases some newspapers and heads to his hotel—when he arrives, he asks if there are any messages for Dickie, but again, there are none.
Tom, guilty and fearful, attempts to begin to cover his tracks as he arrives in a new place, but he finds, to his relief, that nothing new has caught up to him—yet.
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Tom considers writing a letter to Marge telling her that he and Dickie are “very happy together.” He amuses himself at the thought, then begins to worry that she will tell the police that she talked with him over the phone in Rome, and that the police will be looking for him now. Tom takes comfort in thinking that “risks are what make the whole thing fun.”
Comforted by the calm in Palermo, Tom again feels a renewed drive toward risk and toward toying with people’s lives and emotions. He is emboldened by the appearance of renewed stability, and he feels again superior and entitled.
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As Tom bathes and dresses, he realizes that anticipation is “more pleasant to him than experiencing,” and he wonders if “when he spends evenings alone, handling Dickie’s possessions, is that experiencing or anticipation?” Tom wants to travel to Greece, but the idea of experiencing it as himself and not as Dickie brings tears to his eyes.
A portrait of Tom’s life as Dickie is revealed to be one of loneliness and obsessive hoarding—the line between experience and anticipation is so thin for Tom that he cannot discern which of the two is occurring at any given moment.
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Related Quotes
The next morning there is a letter from Marge to Dickie, asking him to “admit that he can’t live without his little chum,” and pitying him for not being able to be “proud of the person he loves.” The letter amuses Tom wildly, but he isn’t distracted for long—soon the phone rings. The Palermo police force is looking for Tom Ripley, and Tom, speaking to the police as Dickie, insists that though Tom is not with him, he might be in Rome.
Marge continues her rightful assault on Tom’s character as she mourns Dickie’s absence. This, combined with the police’s hunt for Tom Ripley, inspires a sense of unease in Tom once again, interrupting his introspective and restorative time in Palermo.
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Tom spends the rest of his morning composing a letter to the Greenleafs, realizing that his voice as Dickie flows more freely than his voice as Tom ever did.
Tom feels a renewed sense of security in his identity as Dickie, just as he fears his ability to be Dickie is speeding to an end.
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