The next day, McCarron calls Tom to ask for the names of all of Dickie’s acquaintances in Mongibello, and whether or not he knew anybody in Rome or Naples. After the phone call, Tom holes up in his house for “several days,” declining invitations to parties and avoiding photographers who come to his house to take his picture.
The encounters with McCarron have spooked Tom, causing him to retreat into himself and decline even opportunities to exercise his narcissistic impulses, such as parties and press coverage.
After six days, Tom calls Herbert in Rome; there is nothing new to report, he says. Herbert tells Tom of his intent to return to the States at the end of the week, stating that Dickie is either dead or deliberately hiding and continuing the search is futile.
Even Herbert’s abandonment of the pursuit of knowledge as to Dickie’s whereabouts does little to bring Tom joy.
Tom is invited to the house of one of his acquaintances, where he at last breaks down in tears, regretting his mistakes and mourning the life he “could have lived with Dickie.”
Tom is despondent, frightened, and mournful of what it is he always really wanted but never let himself admit: a shared life with Dickie.