The Talented Mr. Ripley

Richard “Dickie” Greenleaf Character Analysis

Dickie Greenleaf, an acquaintance of Tom Ripley’s, is the cool, vain heir to a shipbuilding company who has absconded to Italy in order to live a life of luxury far from the watchful gaze of his overbearing parents. Dickie barely remembers Tom upon his arrival, but he nonetheless invites Tom to join his and his girlfriend Marge’s small social circle in Mongibello. Dickie’s luxurious, bohemian life is filled with lavish dinners, parties, trips, and possessions, which inspires awe and jealousy in the naïve, covetous, and sexually conflicted Tom. Tom’s obsession leads him to murder Dickie on a boat in San Remo, sink his body, and assume his identity by claiming his valuable clothes and rings. Though he feels no remorse for the murder, Tom is vaguely haunted by visions of Dickie, drenched and alive, screaming, “I swam!” Dickie is physically absent for a sizable portion of the novel, but his presence inhabits nearly every page, and his influence over Tom, even in death, creates a whirlpool of deceit and greed. Dickie embodies themes of wealth, luxury, excess, and escape.

Richard “Dickie” Greenleaf Quotes in The Talented Mr. Ripley

The The Talented Mr. Ripley quotes below are all either spoken by Richard “Dickie” Greenleaf or refer to Richard “Dickie” Greenleaf. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Obsession, Identity, and Imitation Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the W. W. Norton & Company edition of The Talented Mr. Ripley published in 2008.
Chapter 1 Quotes

Tom’s heart took a sudden leap. He put on an expression of reflection. It was a possibility. Something in him had smelled it out and leapt at it even before his brain. He wanted to leave New York. “I might,” he said carefully, with the same pondering expression, as if he were even now going over the thousands of little ties that could prevent him. Tom stared at the gold signet ring with the nearly worn-away crest on Mr. Greenleaf’s little finger. “I think I might.”

Related Symbols: Dickie’s Rings
Page Number: 13
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Chapter 9 Quotes

“And these—a lot of landscapes,” Dickie said with a deprecatory laugh, though obviously he wanted Tom to say something complimentary about them, because obviously he was proud of them. They were all wild and hasty and monotonously similar. “My surrealist effort,” Dickie said, bracing another canvas against his knee. Tom winced with almost a personal shame. It was Marge, undoubtedly, though with long snakelike hair, and worst of all two horizons in her eyes, with a miniature landscape of Mongibello’s houses and mountains in one eye, and the beach in the other full of little red people. “Yes, I like that,” Tom said. It gave Dickie something to do, just as it gave thousands of lousy amateur painters all over something to do. He was sorry that Dickie fell into this category as a painter, because he wanted Dickie to be much more.

Page Number: 58
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 10 Quotes

Dickie walked in his slouching, downhill gait that made his bony knees jut out in front of him, a gait that Tom had unconsciously adopted, too.

Page Number: 73
Explanation and Analysis:
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He suddenly felt that Dickie was embracing her, or at least touching her, at this minute, and partly he wanted to see it, and partly he loathed the idea of seeing it. He turned and walked back to Marge’s gate. Tom stopped as Marge’s window came into view: Dickie’s arm was around her waist. Dickie was kissing her. Marge’s face was tipped up to Dickie’s, and what disgusted Tom was that he knew Dickie didn’t mean it. What disgusted him was the big bulge of her behind in the peasant skirt below Dickie’s arm that circled her waist. Tom turned away and ran down the steps, wanting to scream.

Related Symbols: Marge’s Underthings
Page Number: 74
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 11 Quotes

You were supposed to see the soul through the eyes, to see love through the eyes, the one place you could look at another human being and see what really went on inside, and in Dickie’s eyes Tom saw nothing more now than he would have seen if he had looked at the hard, bloodless surface of a mirror. It was as if Dickie had been suddenly snatched away from him. They were not friends. They didn’t know each other.

Page Number: 86
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 12 Quotes

Tom sat opposite [Dickie], staring at his hands with the green ring and the gold signet ring. A crazy emotion of hate, of affection, of impatience and frustration was swelling in him. He wanted to kill Dickie. It was not the first time he had thought of it. He had failed with Dickie, in every way. He hated Dickie. He had offered Dickie friendship, companionship, everything he had to offer, and Dickie had replied with ingratitude and now hostility. If he killed him on this trip, he could simply say that some accident had happened. He could—He had just thought of something brilliant: he could become Dickie Greenleaf. The danger of it, even the inevitable temporariness of it, only made him more enthusiastic. He began to think of how.

Related Symbols: Dickie’s Rings
Page Number: 95
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Chapter 14 Quotes

This was the clean slate he had thought about on the boat coming over from America. This was the real annihilation of his past and of himself, Tom Ripley, who was made up of that past, and his rebirth as a completely new person… He felt as he had on the ship, only more intensely, full of goodwill, a gentleman, with nothing in his past to blemish his character.

Page Number: 121-122
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Chapter 17 Quotes

Tom saw Dickie smiling at him, dressed in the corduroy suit that he had worn in San Remo. The suit was soaking wet, the tie a dripping string. Dickie bent over him, shaking him. “I swam!” he said. “Tom, wake up! I’m all right! I swam! I’m alive!” Tom squirmed away from his touch. He heard Dickie laugh at him, Dickie’s happy, deep laugh. “Tom!” The timbre of the voice was deeper, richer, better than Tom had even been able to make it in his imitations. “I swam!” Dickie’s voice shouted, ringing and ringing in Tom’s ears as if he heard it through a long tunnel.

Related Characters: Tom Ripley (speaker), Richard “Dickie” Greenleaf (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Motorboat
Page Number: 156
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 19 Quotes

What had he said about risks? Risks were what made the whole thing fun. [And] anticipation! It occurred to him that his anticipation was more pleasant to him than his experiencing. Was it always going to be like that? When he spent evenings alone, handling Dickie’s possessions, simply looking at his rings on his own fingers, or his woolen ties, or his black alligator wallet, was that experiencing or anticipation?

Related Symbols: Dickie’s Rings
Page Number: 169
Explanation and Analysis:
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He definitely wanted to see Greece. He wanted to see Greece as Dickie Greenleaf with Dickie’s money, Dickie’s clothes, Dickie’s way of behaving with strangers. The idea of going to Greece, trudging over the Acropolis as Tom Ripley, American tourist, held no charm for him at all. He would as soon not go.Tears came in his eyes as he stared up at the cathedral, and then he turned away and began to walk down a new street.

Page Number: 169-170
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 29 Quotes

In a way it was asking for trouble, Tom thought. But that was the mood he was in. The very chanciness of trying for all of Dickie’s money, the peril of it, was irresistible to him.

Page Number: 259
Explanation and Analysis:
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Richard “Dickie” Greenleaf Character Timeline in The Talented Mr. Ripley

The timeline below shows where the character Richard “Dickie” Greenleaf appears in The Talented Mr. Ripley. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
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...he recognizes Tom as a friend of his son, Richard Greenleaf, known by everyone as “Dickie.” Tom remembers Dickie, with whom he was once casually acquainted and whose Park Avenue apartment... (full context)
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Tom and Herbert move to a table, where Herbert asks whether Tom and Dickie are still in touch, and explains that Dickie has run away to Italy to paint.... (full context)
Chapter 3
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After the meal, Herbert and Emily show Tom a photo album full of pictures of Dickie—one picture, taken in Italy, features an American woman named Marge Sherwood. Emily becomes emotional, and... (full context)
Chapter 4
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...Tom picks up several things from Brooks Brothers that he’s been instructed to take to Dickie. He chooses the things that he thinks Dickie will most like, and charges them to... (full context)
Chapter 6
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...excited to start a new life, and he envisions, even if his mission to bring Dickie home fails, staying on in Europe. (full context)
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Tom writes letters to the Greenleafs, amusing himself by adding imagined accounts of Dickie’s life in Europe. He does not send these fanciful letters, which are full of somewhat... (full context)
Chapter 7
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...a bus to Mongibello. He asks some locals to point him in the direction of Dickie’s house, and they indicate that Dickie is at the beach. Tom purchases a bathing suit... (full context)
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After a swim, Dickie invites Tom up to his house for lunch—Marge joins them. Tom and Dickie discuss Dickie’s... (full context)
Chapter 8
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From his hotel room, Tom, sick with an upset stomach, observes Dickie and Marge as they make their way down a nearby street. Tom “curses himself for... (full context)
Chapter 9
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...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... (full context)
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Sensing that Dickie has grown colder and is about to leave forever, Tom confesses that Herbert sent him... (full context)
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Dickie invites Tom to lunch, but first the two stop by Marge’s house to see if... (full context)
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The three head to Dickie’s home for lunch, and Tom describes his many talents—for forgery, figures, and impersonating “practically anybody.”... (full context)
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Tom suggests he and Dickie go to Naples. Dickie tells him that he and Marge are planning to go on... (full context)
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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... (full context)
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The next day, Tom and Dickie return to Mongibello. Marge is “annoyed” with Dickie for staying out without telling her. Tom... (full context)
Chapter 10
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Tom has been with Dickie “every moment since he moved into Dickie’s house.” Over the course of the few days... (full context)
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Dickie goes up to Marge’s house, hoping to reassure her and to invite her to Cortina.... (full context)
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Although in the past few weeks Dickie has welcomingly lent Tom his clothes, he asks Tom to “get out” of his outfit.... (full context)
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Tom attempts to reassure himself of Dickie’s affections while Dickie spends the afternoon painting. By five o’ clock Tom feels that things... (full context)
Chapter 11
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Tom approaches Dickie with an offer to travel to Paris “in a coffin.” An Italian man has offered... (full context)
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Tom heads home while Dickie goes off to visit Marge. On the way back to the house, Tom stops and... (full context)
Chapter 12
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Marge declines Tom and Dickie’s invitation to San Remo, but asks them to pick up a special cologne for her... (full context)
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On the beach in Cannes, Tom and Dickie spot a group of men making a human pyramid, and Dickie makes reference to them... (full context)
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That afternoon, Tom and Dickie leave for San Remo. Dickie sleeps on the train, and Tom stares at him as... (full context)
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...Remo, Tom suggests that the two of them take a boat out into the bay. Dickie agrees, and they rent a boat and set off. Though Tom is afraid of water,... (full context)
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Dickie slows the boat’s motor so that Tom can jump in for a swim, and, when... (full context)
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While attempting to sink Dickie’s body, Tom accidentally starts the boat’s motor and falls into the water. He panics, but... (full context)
Chapter 13
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...and he begins to cover up the murder. He cleans his bloodstained clothes and packs Dickie’s bag “just as Dickie had always packed it.” He then catches a train south, and,... (full context)
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...in Mongibello, Tom immediately runs into Marge, dressed in her bathing suit. She asks where Dickie is, and Tom replies that Dickie has gone to Rome, and that he is here... (full context)
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Marge leaves to go to the beach, and Tom sets upon Dickie’s things. He dresses himself in Dickie’s clothes, collects Dickie’s recent letters, packs Dickie’s suitcases, and... (full context)
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...up the packing, Marge stops by. Tom tells her that he’s received a letter from Dickie stating Dickie’s intent to move to Rome indefinitely, and that Tom should collect “all he... (full context)
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...there is nothing in the papers. He finds solace in remembering that neither he nor Dickie gave their names to the boatmaster in San Remo. After an espresso at the local... (full context)
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Once in Rome, Tom writes Marge a letter from “Dickie,” explaining that “he” doesn’t want to see Marge for a while in hopes that he... (full context)
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Tom realizes that he showed Dickie’s passport at the hotel’s front desk instead of his own—by mistake, but without incident. He... (full context)
Chapter 14
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...his new room, he holds “imaginary conversations” with Fausto, Freddie, and Marge—practicing his imitation of Dickie, in case any one of them calls him on the phone. He practices “jumping into... (full context)
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...at apartments—it is “impossible ever to be lonely or bored so long as he is Dickie Greenleaf.” He collects Dickie’s mail at American Express—there is a letter from Marge, in which... (full context)
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Tom writes a letter to Herbert and Emily Greenleaf as Dickie, telling them he is looking for an apartment in Rome and will be studying with... (full context)
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...thrilled by the idea that, while sitting at a café, someone might recognize him as Dickie. He thinks of “tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow being Dickie Greenleaf,” relishing his possession of... (full context)
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...and plans to send her unfinished book to a publisher. Tom returns her letter as Dickie, telling her that “Tom Ripley” has left Europe. He says that he—Dickie—is still hunting for... (full context)
Chapter 15
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...He is careful, though, to keep himself from learning some of its proper usages, as Dickie often misused tenses here and there. Tom decorates his apartment with the help of Signora... (full context)
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...door. He answers it to find Freddie Miles in the hall. Tom quickly slips off Dickie’s rings, greeting Freddie and telling him that Dickie is out of the apartment and should... (full context)
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...descends the stairs, and he hears Freddie run into Signora Buffi, who insists that only “Signor Greenleaf” is upstairs and has not yet gone out today. Tom hears Freddie’ footsteps coming back... (full context)
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...keys and a wallet, Tom concocts a plan to make the room look as if Dickie and Freddie enjoyed an afternoon of heavy drinking. As Tom stares at Freddie’s lifeless corpse,... (full context)
Chapter 17
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...he can depart for the train, the phone rings. It is the police, asking if “Dickie” is friends with an American named “Fred-derick Meelays.” The police explain that Freddie’s corpse has... (full context)
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Fausto calls for Dickie, telling him that he’s in town and wants to have lunch. Tom, as Dickie, tells... (full context)
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The police arrive to interrogate “Dickie.” Tom answers their questions and offers to comply with anything the officers need, but he... (full context)
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...it will be assumed to be Tom Ripley’s body, since Tom has been living as Dickie and has all but abandoned his identity as Tom. Dickie will then be a suspect... (full context)
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...the bed and begins to fall asleep. As he does, he experiences a vision of Dickie “soaking wet, bent over him” and screaming, joyfully and maniacally, “’I swam! I’m alive!’” Tom... (full context)
Chapter 18
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...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... (full context)
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...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... (full context)
Chapter 19
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...and heads to his hotel—when he arrives, he asks if there are any messages for Dickie, but again, there are none. (full context)
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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... (full context)
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...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... (full context)
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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... (full context)
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...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. (full context)
Chapter 20
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Two letters arrive: one from Dickie’s bank in Naples and one from his trust company in New York. The letters call... (full context)
Chapter 21
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A letter arrives for Dickie, “urgently” requesting that he come to Rome to answer some questions concerning Tom Ripley. Tom... (full context)
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The next morning, Tom wakes seized by the an idea: he will check all of Dickie’s belongings at the American Express under a different name once he returns to Italy, and... (full context)
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...On the second page of one of the papers, a headline describes the search for Dickie Greenleaf, who is missing after a “Sicilian holiday.” Tom considers “playing himself up a little... (full context)
Chapter 22
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The following morning, the papers say that Dickie is “exposing himself to suspicion of participation” and must present himself to the authorities in... (full context)
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The tenente questions Tom as to the last place he saw Dickie, and as to where he himself has been. When the tenente tells Tom that there... (full context)
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...not to be opened for several months. Inside it should be a will signed by Dickie, bequeathing Tom his money and his income.” (full context)
Chapter 23
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Tom writes a letter to Herbert stating that he “feels Dickie may have killed himself.” He receives a letter from Marge—who is in Munich—declining a previous... (full context)
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Dickie’s disappearance—and possible death—is still frequently referenced in the papers, and the police continue to “comb”... (full context)
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Tom feels self-confident as of late; so confident, in fact, that he has composed Dickie’s “will,” and signed it in Dickie’s hand. He places the will in a pocket of... (full context)
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The papers feature a small story about Dickie’s bank letters, revealing that they believe the perpetrator of Dickie’s murder must have been close... (full context)
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...house of Contessa, Roberta (Titi) della Latta-Cacciaguerra. At each party, people ask him incessantly about Dickie—whether he was in love with Marge, and what could possibly have happened to him. (full context)
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...can muster. Over lunch, Marge “quizzes Tom more acutely than any police officer” as to Dickie’s state of mind the last time they saw each other, and she begs Tom to... (full context)
Chapter 24
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Later that night, Tom calls Herbert from a friend’s house—Herbert believes that Dickie is dead, and, because he has “never thought much of Dickie’s stability,” he agrees with... (full context)
Chapter 25
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...Marge have a coffee and read the papers. It is a rare morning; nothing about Dickie or Freddie’s murder is in the papers at all. Marge and Tom go to the... (full context)
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...knows Herbert will want to “quiz” him. Herbert asks Tom if he thinks that perhaps Dickie is hiding out at an obscure hotel or somewhere in the countryside—Tom states that it... (full context)
Chapter 26
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...feels that they will only be there as a spectacle—as friends of the famous, missing Dickie Greenleaf. Tom is preoccupied at the party, worried by the impending arrival of Herbert’s private... (full context)
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...that he will stay in Europe “forever.” He treasures evenings spent looking over his and Dickie’s possessions, and poring over maps and guidebooks. Attached to his life of leisure abroad, he... (full context)
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Marge enters the room holding a brown leather box containing Dickie’s rings, which she discovered when looking for thread to sew her bra up. When Tom... (full context)
Chapter 27
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...she hangs up, she tells Tom that Herbert now agrees that “it looks as if Dickie meant to kill himself.” Tom showers and dresses, and then the telephone rings. Marge answers... (full context)
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...McCarron, are waiting for them. Marge hands the rings over, and McCarron asks Tom when Dickie gave them to him. Tom replies, “a few days after the murder of Freddie Miles.”... (full context)
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McCarron goes over the facts of Dickie’s “disappearance” again, including the forgeries and the intricacies of Tom, Marge, and Dickie’s friendship. McCarron... (full context)
Chapter 28
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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... (full context)
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...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. (full context)
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...down in tears, regretting his mistakes and mourning the life he “could have lived with Dickie.” (full context)
Chapter 29
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Tom writes a letter to Herbert in which he describes finding Dickie’s “will,” which was “given” to him some time ago in Rome. He apologizes for not... (full context)
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Tom visits the countess Titi, who tells him that the afternoon papers are saying that Dickie’s suitcases and paintings have been found “right here in the American Express in Venice.” The... (full context)
Chapter 30
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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... (full context)
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...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... (full context)
Wealth, Luxury, and Excess Theme Icon
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...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... (full context)