As Tom’s presence in Mongibello becomes more and more unwelcome and the emotional chasm between him and Dickie grows larger and deeper, Tom grows increasingly desperate to endear himself to Dickie, and this desperation leads him to kill Dickie on a trip to San Remo. While exploring the city, Tom suggests the two take a boat out around the port. Out on the water, Tom takes up the boat’s lone oar and, with it, bludgeons Dickie to death. He then strips Dickie of his possessions, binds Dickie with rope, and uses a cement weight to drag Dickie’s body to the bottom of the sea. Tom steers the bloodstained boat to a secluded shore and fills it with stones, then pushes it out “toward deeper water.” However, the boat resurfaces and the authorities find it, leading to a manhunt for Dickie and questions about Tom’s own whereabouts and identity. The boat, then, is a symbol for the inevitability of the truth, and the past’s tendency to haunt the present. Though Tom feels little remorse for (or even emotion about) his actions, he is nonetheless dogged by the fear of having each of his lies fall down around him and thereby being discovered for what he is. The bloodstained boat’s resurfacing represents the resilience of truth, even against such a worthy opponent as the talented Mr. Ripley. The boat’s significance is even more magnified when taking into account the fervor with which Dickie tried to escape inheriting his father’s shipbuilding business—a business which specializes in small sailing ships. Dickie’s end comes in a boat, though it was his father’s lifelong involvement with boats—and his attempt to foist that involvement on Dickie—that Dickie so desperately wanted to leave behind.
The Motorboat Quotes in The Talented Mr. Ripley
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.