After several days, Tom has received no correspondence from Tenente Roverini in regards to Dickie’s possessions having turned up in Venice. Tom is sleepless and nervous, expecting “the police to come knocking at any hour,” but nonetheless he continues preparations for his departure. Anna and Ugo and several of his friends ask worriedly what the found suitcases might mean and, despite reacting in an “upset, pessimistic, desperate” way, no one suspects a thing, as the discovery of Dickie’s possessions points to his having been murdered.
Tom’s despondency over what he views as his inevitable capture is read by everyone around him as despair over the news of his best friend’s almost-certain death. Tom has isolated himself completely through his countless lies, and his motives and feelings are unreadable to everyone he encounters.
Tom predicts that Herbert will get the will the day after tomorrow and that, by that time, the authorities “might know that the fingerprints were not Dickie’s.” If they take Tom’s own fingerprints, Tom knows that “both murders will come out as naturally as ABC.”
Tom knows that the will was the ultimate risk, and that it may bring his entire charade crumbling down—all he can do, though, is wait, and plan his final, great escape.
Tom boards the Hellenes, a boat bound for Greece, feeling like a “walking ghost.” He falls asleep instantly and wakes after dark to take a walk on the ship. He worries obsessively, and convinces himself that he’ll be caught. He believes, though, that everything he’s done has been worth it, and he only regrets not yet having seen all the world.
Even in the hour of what Tom perceives as his doom, he feels that all of his lies, crimes, and transgressions have been “worth it” to taste the luxury and freedom he’s tasted. Still, he hungers for more—Tom Ripley is a void that can never be filled.
When the boat arrives in Greece, four policemen are waiting on the dock. After stepping off the boat Tom approaches them, ready to accept his fate, but none of are paying him any attention at all. He buys some newspapers and returns to the dock to await his luggage. A headline in one of the newspapers states that the fingerprints found on Dickie’s suitcases are identical to the fingerprints found throughout his apartment in Rome, and “there is speculation that he may have committed suicide.” The papers conclude that the continued search for “Richard Greenleaf” is “futile.”
Tom, in his nervousness, perceives the policemen as his pursuers, and he is shocked to find that they want nothing at all to do with him. His ritual of scouring the papers as a compass for what to do next provides him with enormous, unexpected relief for once.
Tom retrieves his luggage, slowly realizing that he is not suspected “at all… he is free. Except for the will.” Tom boards a bus to Athens and, once there, goes straight to the American Express. There is a letter from Herbert waiting, which says that he and Emily will “carry out Richard’s preferences and the spirit of them.” They plan to give “Dickie’s” will to their layers, who will then turn Dickie’s trust fund and properties over to Tom.
Though Tom has been exonerated by the papers, he knows that the matter of the will looms over him still. At the American Express, this fear is calmed, and Tom realizes that his great escape is complete. He will inherit Dickie’s riches and continue to live a life of freedom and luxury.
Tom imagines himself arriving in Crete, picturing four imaginary policemen waiting for him on the dock. He wonders if he will see policemen waiting for him “on every pier he’ll ever approach,” but he decides there is “no use” thinking about it. He jumps into a taxi, and instructs the driver to take him to the best hotel in town.