The Talented Mr. Ripley

Tom Ripley, who is simultaneously the novel’s protagonist and antagonist, has a gift for forgery, impersonation, and imitation, and he uses these skills to his advantage at every available opportunity. Slick and slippery, Tom mirrors the tastes and affectations of whatever company he keeps. After being sent to Italy to retrieve Dickie Greenleaf, a casual acquaintance who has run away to live a life of bohemian luxury, Tom becomes obsessed with befriending Dickie. When Dickie’s friend and oft-spurned romantic devotee Marge Sherwood suggests to him that Tom’s motivations are devious at best and dangerous at worst, Dickie pulls away from Tom, sending Tom into a jealous spiral that leads him to murder Dickie and overtake his identity, using his cunning to remain one step ahead of the law for the remainder of the book. Tom’s gifts for imitation and impersonation belie a deep set of insecurities. Orphaned and raised by his cruel Aunt Dottie, Tom has always felt like a burden to others and has never felt secure in the value of his own personality. In this way, his need to transform into Dickie in order to feel worthy of acceptance and love shows that self-hatred is one of his primary motivations. Another motivation, which is never explicitly revealed, is his potential homosexuality, which he has never accepted in himself. Perhaps, Highsmith implies, Tom killed Dickie because it was the next best thing to loving him, an act Tom could not allow himself.

Tom Ripley Quotes in The Talented Mr. Ripley

The The Talented Mr. Ripley quotes below are all either spoken by Tom Ripley or refer to Tom Ripley. 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 Characters: Tom Ripley (speaker), Richard “Dickie” Greenleaf, Herbert Greenleaf
Related Symbols: Dickie’s Rings
Page Number: 13
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 2 Quotes

In a large mirror on the wall he could see himself: the upright, self-respecting young man again. He looked quickly away. He was doing the right thing, behaving the right way. Yet he had a feeling of guilt. When he had said to Mrs. Greenleaf just now, I’ll do everything I can… Well, he had meant it. He wasn’t trying to fool anybody. He felt himself beginning to sweat, and he tried to relax.

Related Characters: Tom Ripley (speaker), Emily Greenleaf
Page Number: 23
Explanation and Analysis:

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He leaned in the corner of the elevator in an exhausted way, though he knew as soon as he hit the lobby he would fly out of the door and keep on running, running, all the way home.

Related Characters: Tom Ripley
Page Number: 27
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 6 Quotes

The last four years had been for the most part a waste, there was no denying that. A series of haphazard jobs, long perilous intervals with no job at all and consequent demoralization because of having no money, and then taking up with stupid, silly people in order not to be lonely, or because they could offer him something. It was not a record to be proud of.

Related Characters: Tom Ripley
Page Number: 39
Explanation and Analysis:

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His aloofness, he knew, was causing a little comment among the passengers. He imagined [their] speculation: Is he an American! I think so, but he doesn’t act like an American, does he? He’s terribly serious, isn’t he, and he can’t be more than twenty-three. He must have something very important on his mind. Yes, he had. The present and the future of Tom Ripley.

Related Characters: Tom Ripley
Page Number: 41
Explanation and Analysis:

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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.

Related Characters: Tom Ripley (speaker), Richard “Dickie” Greenleaf (speaker), Marjorie “Marge” Sherwood, Herbert Greenleaf, Emily Greenleaf
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.

Related Characters: Tom Ripley, Richard “Dickie” Greenleaf
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 Characters: Tom Ripley, Richard “Dickie” Greenleaf, Marjorie “Marge” Sherwood
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.

Related Characters: Tom Ripley, Richard “Dickie” Greenleaf
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 Characters: Tom Ripley, Richard “Dickie” Greenleaf
Related Symbols: Dickie’s Rings
Page Number: 95
Explanation and Analysis:

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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.

Related Characters: Tom Ripley, Richard “Dickie” Greenleaf
Page Number: 121-122
Explanation and Analysis:

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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 Characters: Tom Ripley, Richard “Dickie” Greenleaf
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.

Related Characters: Tom Ripley, Richard “Dickie” Greenleaf
Page Number: 169-170
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 20 Quotes

He was lonely. He had imagined himself acquiring a bright new circle of friends with whom he would start a new life with new attitudes, standards, and habits that would be far better and cleverer than those he had had all his life. Now he realized that it couldn’t be. He would have to keep a distance from people, always. He was alone, and it was a lonely game he was playing. He altered his behavior slightly, to accord with the role of a more detached observer of life. There was a faint air of sadness about him now. He enjoyed the change. He imagined that he looked like a young man who had had an unhappy love affair or some kind of emotional disaster, and was trying to recuperate by visiting some of the most beautiful places on the earth.

Related Characters: Tom Ripley
Page Number: 174
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 23 Quotes

Were [the authorities] going to pounce on him soon with every bit of evidence they needed? It gave Tom the feeling that he was being followed. Tom did not know who would attack him, if he were attacked. He did not imagine police, necessarily. He was afraid of nameless, formless things that haunted his brain like the Furies.

Related Characters: Tom Ripley
Page Number: 203
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 26 Quotes

He loved possessions. They gave a man self-respect. Not ostentation but quality, and the love that cherished the quality. Possessions reminded him that he existed, and made him enjoy his existence. It was as simple as that. And wasn’t that worth something? He existed.

Related Characters: Tom Ripley
Page Number: 234
Explanation and Analysis:

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His stories were good because he imagined them intensely, so intensely that he came to believe them.

Related Characters: Tom Ripley
Page Number: 237
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.

Related Characters: Tom Ripley, Richard “Dickie” Greenleaf, Herbert Greenleaf
Page Number: 259
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 30 Quotes

He saw four motionless figures standing on the imaginary pier, the figures of Cretan policemen waiting for him, patiently waiting with folded arms. He grew suddenly tense and his vision vanished. Was he going to see policemen waiting for him on every pier that he ever approached? In Alexandria? Istanbul? Bombay? Rio? No use thinking about that. He pulled his shoulders back. No use spoiling his trip worrying about imaginary policemen. Even if there were policemen on the pier, it wouldn’t necessarily mean—

“A donda, a donda?” the taxi driver was saying, trying to speak Italian for him.

“To a hotel, please,” Tom said. “Il meglio albergo. Il meglio, il meglio!”

Related Characters: Tom Ripley (speaker)
Page Number: 271
Explanation and Analysis:

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Tom Ripley Character Timeline in The Talented Mr. Ripley

The timeline below shows where the character Tom Ripley appears in The Talented Mr. Ripley. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Obsession, Identity, and Imitation Theme Icon
Escapes Theme Icon
Tom Ripley hurriedly exits a bar called the Green Cage on Park Avenue, aware that he... (full context)
Obsession, Identity, and Imitation Theme Icon
Wealth, Luxury, and Excess Theme Icon
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Tom’s pursuer enters the bar and approaches him. He introduces himself as Herbert Greenleaf, and explains... (full context)
Obsession, Identity, and Imitation Theme Icon
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Tom and Herbert move to a table, where Herbert asks whether Tom and Dickie are still... (full context)
Chapter 2
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After drinks with Herbert, Tom returns home to his “dingy” brownstone apartment, where he shares a dirty, small room with... (full context)
Chapter 3
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That night, Tom arrives at the Greenleafs’ Park Avenue apartment for dinner. He’s received warmly by Herbert and... (full context)
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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... (full context)
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As the men continue drinking, Tom becomes “increasingly close-mouthed and sour” and develops an intense desire to leave the apartment, though... (full context)
Chapter 4
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During his last few days in New York, Tom grows anxious as he ties up his loose ends. He has no family business to... (full context)
Chapter 5
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Though Tom has told Bob Delancey that he doesn’t want to be seen off, when he arrives... (full context)
Chapter 6
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On the ship, Tom begins to play the “role of a serious young man with a serious job ahead... (full context)
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Tom writes letters to the Greenleafs, amusing himself by adding imagined accounts of Dickie’s life in... (full context)
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Tom ruminates on the mistakes he’s made in the last few years in New York—never sticking... (full context)
Chapter 7
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Tom takes a train through France and into Italy. He spends the night at a fine... (full context)
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The following morning, Tom takes a bus to Mongibello. He asks some locals to point him in the direction... (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 parents, and... (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... (full context)
Chapter 9
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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... (full context)
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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... (full context)
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Dickie invites Tom to lunch, but first the two stop by Marge’s house to see if she is... (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.” Dickie shows Tom his paintings,... (full context)
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Tom suggests he and Dickie go to Naples. Dickie tells him that he and Marge are... (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... (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... (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... (full context)
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...goes up to Marge’s house, hoping to reassure her and to invite her to Cortina. Tom follows him in secret; he has pictured Dickie embracing Marge, and he simultaneously wants to... (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. Tom tries to act... (full context)
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Tom attempts to reassure himself of Dickie’s affections while Dickie spends the afternoon painting. By five... (full context)
Chapter 11
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Tom approaches Dickie with an offer to travel to Paris “in a coffin.” An Italian man... (full context)
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Tom heads home while Dickie goes off to visit Marge. On the way back to the... (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... (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... (full context)
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That afternoon, Tom and Dickie leave for San Remo. Dickie sleeps on the train, and Tom stares at... (full context)
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In San Remo, Tom suggests that the two of them take a boat out into the bay. Dickie agrees,... (full context)
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Dickie slows the boat’s motor so that Tom can jump in for a swim, and, when he does, Tom smacks him over the... (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 manages to... (full context)
Chapter 13
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Tom returns to San Remo, exhausted, and he begins to cover up the murder. He cleans... (full context)
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Stepping off the bus in Mongibello, Tom immediately runs into Marge, dressed in her bathing suit. She asks where Dickie is, and... (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... (full context)
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The following morning, as Tom finishes up the packing, Marge stops by. Tom tells her that he’s received a letter... (full context)
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Tom searches the Neapolitan newspapers for anything about a bloodstained boat having been found, but there... (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... (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... (full context)
Chapter 14
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The next day Tom moves hotels. In his new room, he holds “imaginary conversations” with Fausto, Freddie, and Marge—practicing... (full context)
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Tom goes out to sightsee and look at apartments—it is “impossible ever to be lonely or... (full context)
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Tom writes a letter to Herbert and Emily Greenleaf as Dickie, telling them he is looking... (full context)
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Tom leaves for Paris, delighted at the chance to finally see the city. Once there, he... (full context)
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Tom is invited to a party by some people he met at a café, and he... (full context)
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When Tom returns to Rome, a letter from Marge is waiting, saying that she is departing Europe... (full context)
Chapter 15
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Tom enjoys his life in Rome, and he continues to study Italian. He is careful, though,... (full context)
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While packing for a trip to Spain and Sicily, there comes a knock at Tom’s door. He answers it to find Freddie Miles in the hall. Tom quickly slips off... (full context)
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Tom listens as Freddie descends the stairs, and he hears Freddie run into Signora Buffi, who... (full context)
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...soak up the blood and searching Freddie’s pockets to find car keys and a wallet, Tom concocts a plan to make the room look as if Dickie and Freddie enjoyed an... (full context)
Chapter 16
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After dark, in a “precisely calculated state of intoxication,” Tom drags Freddie down to his car. A man asks in Italian if everything is all... (full context)
Chapter 17
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The next morning, Tom, hungover, searches the papers for anything about Freddie’s death, but there is nothing. He prepares... (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 Fausto to meet him at the train station, explaining that he is... (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 explains... (full context)
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Tom realizes that if an investigation is opened and a body is discovered in the water,... (full context)
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Tom lies down on the bed and begins to fall asleep. As he does, he experiences... (full context)
Chapter 18
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The next morning, Tom wakes up thinking of Marge. He has a “horrible premonition” that she is bound for... (full context)
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The phone rings, and Tom answers it—it’s Marge. He tells her that he is getting dressed and Dickie is out... (full context)
Chapter 19
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As Tom’s boat arrives at the dock in Palermo, Tom looks to see if the police are... (full context)
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Tom considers writing a letter to Marge telling her that he and Dickie are “very happy... (full context)
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As Tom bathes and dresses, he realizes that anticipation is “more pleasant to him than experiencing,” and... (full context)
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...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... (full context)
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Tom spends the rest of his morning composing a letter to the Greenleafs, realizing that his... (full context)
Chapter 20
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Five “calm, solitary, agreeable” days pass as Tom explores Palermo, Sicily. He is lonely, realizing that he will “have to keep a distance... (full context)
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...York. The letters call into question the veracity of the signatures on Dickie’s recent checks. Tom practices Dickie’s signature, then sends a signed letter and signature card to the New York... (full context)
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Tom’s desire to go to Capri has “vanished,” and he walks aimlessly through the streets of... (full context)
Chapter 21
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...arrives for Dickie, “urgently” requesting that he come to Rome to answer some questions concerning Tom Ripley. Tom plans to return to Italy as himself, buy a secondhand car somewhere far... (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... (full context)
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Tom takes a train through Italy to a small town, Trento, and buys a car. There... (full context)
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Tom goes out to dinner, purchasing the evening news on his way. On the second page... (full context)
Chapter 22
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...and must present himself to the authorities in order to be cleared of that suspicion. Tom decides that he needs to identify himself as soon as possible. Tom goes to the... (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... (full context)
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Tom makes a reservation for himself at a fine restaurant. “Suddenly ravenous,” he looks forward to... (full context)
Chapter 23
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Tom writes a letter to Herbert stating that he “feels Dickie may have killed himself.” He... (full context)
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...and Paris for any sign of Dickie. One paper also features a small write-up of Tom, describing him as a “young well-to-do American who lives in a palazzo in Venice.” Though... (full context)
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Tom feels self-confident as of late; so confident, in fact, that he has composed Dickie’s “will,”... (full context)
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...close enough to him to have access to those letters. This piece of news gives Tom “the feeling that he is being followed.” (full context)
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Tom attends a few parties, though he is “not at all in the mood.” He visits... (full context)
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Each day, Tom awaits a letter from Marge or Herbert—he feels prepared to see them both and to... (full context)
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One day in early April, Tom receives a call from Marge. She is at the railway station in Venice; Herbert is... (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... (full context)
Chapter 25
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Early the next morning, a telegram arrives for Tom—it is from Herbert, saying that he has changed his mind and will be arriving in... (full context)
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Back at Tom’s house, Tom urges Marge to head upstairs so that he and Herbert can speak alone—he... (full context)
Chapter 26
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Marge insists that Tom accompany her to an afternoon cocktail party, though he feels that they will only be... (full context)
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At dinner with Marge and Herbert, Tom tries to make up for his distant behavior at the party by being “pleasant and... (full context)
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...Dickie’s rings, which she discovered when looking for thread to sew her bra up. When Tom tells her that Dickie gave her the rings “to take care of,” Marge becomes despondent,... (full context)
Chapter 27
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In the morning, Tom overhears Marge beginning to tell Herbert about the rings over the phone. When she hangs... (full context)
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Marge and Tom go over to Herbert’s hotel, where he and the American detective, McCarron, are waiting for... (full context)
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...goes over the facts of Dickie’s “disappearance” again, including the forgeries and the intricacies of Tom, Marge, and Dickie’s friendship. McCarron then asks Tom to accompany him downstairs. Tom panics on... (full context)
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Herbert and Tom say their goodbyes, and Tom returns home, where he spends the afternoon waiting on a... (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... (full context)
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After six days, Tom calls Herbert in Rome; there is nothing new to report, he says. Herbert tells Tom... (full context)
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Tom is invited to the house of one of his acquaintances, where he at last breaks... (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”... (full context)
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Tom visits the countess Titi, who tells him that the afternoon papers are saying that Dickie’s... (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... (full context)
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Tom predicts that Herbert will get the will the day after tomorrow and that, by that... (full context)
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Tom boards the Hellenes, a boat bound for Greece, feeling like a “walking ghost.” He falls... (full context)
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...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... (full context)
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Tom retrieves his luggage, slowly realizing that he is not suspected “at all… he is free.... (full context)
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Tom imagines himself arriving in Crete, picturing four imaginary policemen waiting for him on the dock.... (full context)