After three days alone and sick in the hotel, Tom goes down to the beach to find Dickie. After a quick dip, Tom invites Dickie to his hotel, in order to give him the Brooks Brothers items he picked up on behalf of Dickie’s parents. Dickie agrees, and the two head back to the hotel and up to Tom’s room. Dickie collects his things, and Tom tells him that Herbert is “very concerned” about him. Dickie explains that he’s happy in Italy, and has no intentions of returning to America.
Tom concocts a plan in order to ingratiate himself to Dickie. Part of him hopes that just spending time together will do the trick, but there’s no denying that Tom believes that giving Dickie a physical gift—the luxurious Brooks Brothers clothes—will bring them closer together. Tom’s reverence for material goods is exposed here.
Sensing that Dickie has grown colder and is about to leave forever, Tom confesses that Herbert sent him over “especially” to ask him to come home. When Dickie realizes that his father has paid Tom’s way, he is intrigued and amused by his father’s desperation. Tom and Dickie have a drink in the hotel bar and toast Herbert.
Dickie, in a cruel show of contempt for his parents’ lives and wishes, is made absolutely giddy by the fact that Herbert has gone to such desperate lengths to secure his return. This is finally the thing that brings him closer to Tom—their shared ridicule of Herbert.
Dickie invites Tom to lunch, but first the two stop by Marge’s house to see if she is home—her home is “sloppy” with a “messy” garden out front, and her red bathing suit and a bra are hanging out of a windowsill. Marge greets the two men, and Dickie urges Tom to tell Marge about Herbert’s proposition; Tom tells the story in great detail to both Marge and Dickie’s amusement, and can feel “how high his stock is shooting up” with both of them.
Tom sees Marge’s house as a dirty and feminine space. He is unsettled and repelled time and time again throughout the novel by her femininity and any display of vulnerability or honesty she makes. Nevertheless, Tom is thrilled by his “rising stock” in both Dickie and Marge’s eyes.
The three head to Dickie’s home for lunch, and Tom describes his many talents—for forgery, figures, and impersonating “practically anybody.” Dickie shows Tom his paintings, and Tom notes that they are not very good—he is disappointed, because he wants Dickie “to be much more.” Dickie gives Tom a tour of the rest of the house, and notes that there is “no sign of Marge anywhere, least of all in Dickie’s bedroom.”
Tom and Dickie compare talents, and it is clear that Tom is the more skilled of the two—however, he’s disappointed to realize it, since he wants Dickie to be exquisite and unsurpassable. Tom sees Dickie almost as an extension of himself already, or even a better version of himself, so it’s only through Dickie being amazing that Tom can gain respect for himself.
Tom suggests he and Dickie go to Naples. Dickie tells him that he and Marge are planning to go on Saturday evening, but Tom, “hoping to avoid Marge in the excursion,” suggests a daytime or weekday trip, and Dickie agrees to leave the following day. Tom asks if Marge is a Catholic, and Dickie tells him that she converted for an “Italian she had a mad crush on.” Tom tells Dickie that he had supposed that Marge was in love with him; Dickie tells Tom not to be “silly.” They return to the terrace and eat lunch, then Tom invites Marge and Dickie for dinner at his hotel. Dickie invites Tom to move into his house, and Tom agrees. He tells Dickie that there is still five hundred dollars of Herbert’s money left, and he suggests they “have a little fun on it.”
In this passage, the intricacies of Tom, Dickie, and Marge’s peculiar triangle begin to emerge. Tom believes that Marge is in love with Dickie, but doesn’t necessarily believe Dickie reciprocates—in fact, he hopes that Dickie doesn’t. Dickie’s denial of the entire affair emboldens and excites Tom, and, as the two make the decision to move in together, Tom’s sense of being buoyed and buffeted by Dickie’s possessions, attentions, and family money reaches a peak.
The next morning, Tom moves in. After his belongings are settled in Dickie’s house, the two of them head for the bus to Naples. On the way, they run into another American, a redhead in a “loud sports shirt.” His name is Freddie Miles, and Tom thinks he is “hideous.” Freddie invites Dickie to a skiing trip in Cortina in December, then Dickie bids him goodbye. Dickie and Tom board the bus to Naples and, once there, they people-watch at a pizzeria. After a while, Dickie suggests they go to Rome, and they hitch a ride with an Italian acquaintance of Dickie’s. Once there, the men visit a music hall, take a ride through the city, and eat and drink to excess. Dickie calls Tom “Mr. Greenleaf,” making Tom feel “weird,” and the two drunkenly help a woman home in a taxi. Tom remarks that if Marge were with them, they “wouldn’t be seeing half of Rome.” Dickie agrees enthusiastically, and puts his arm around Tom’s shoulder.
Tom’s inherent dislike of anyone who shows a familiarity with Dickie becomes clear when he reacts negatively to Freddie Miles almost immediately. This aspect of Tom’s personality is emphasized when, in the midst of a fun night out in Rome, Marge is at the forefront of Tom’s imagination in a negative way—he can only think how badly she’d stand in the way of his and Dickie’s growing closer. And the two men are growing closer: Dickie’s calling Tom “Mr. Greenleaf” heralds a breaking down of boundaries between the two and a blurring of the lines that define their personalities—all due to Tom’s obsession with Dickie.
The next day, Tom and Dickie return to Mongibello. Marge is “annoyed” with Dickie for staying out without telling her. Tom keeps his mouth shut, happy to “let Marge imagine what she pleased.” He observes that Marge is jealous of him for forming “a closer bond with Dickie because he was another man…a closer bond than she could ever have with Dickie.” When Dickie leaves the two of them alone, Marge tells Tom about her writing—she is working on a book about Mongibello. Marge’s pronunciation and provinciality irk Tom, but he tries to be pleasant to her nonetheless, feeling “he can afford to be.”
Tom actually wants for Marge to think that something is afoot between him and Dickie. Though he’ll later insist that he “isn’t queer” and that he prefers women, there’s no doubt that he longs for Marge to think that he and Dickie might be growing closer than close, because it would mean that Dickie accepts and loves him.