The Talented Mr. Ripley

by Patricia Highsmith

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What factors made Tom's childhood difficult in The Talented Mr. Ripley? Do they justify his adult crimes?

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The Talented Mr. Ripleyis a novel by Patricia Highsmith . It was first published in 1955. It follows the story of Tom Ripley, who befriends a man called Dickie Greenleaf. Later on in the novel, Tom kills Dickie and assumes his identity. Whilst Tom’s action are clearly motivated mainly...

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by the fact that he wants to achieve financial gain, one could also argue that part of the reason for his criminal behavior could be seen in his childhood.

For example, Tom grew up an orphan, as his parents died when he was only five years old. Instead of growing up with two loving parents, Tom had to live in Boston with his aunt, Dottie, who was not very loving towards him at all. One could argue that one of the reasons why Tom feels so close to Dickie is because he subconsciously seeks an emotional connection. Dickie almost becomes a brother for Tom, he becomes his family. Therefore, it is not surprising that Tom is considerably upset and hurt when he feels that he and Dickie are growing apart. He is scared of losing Dickie, which ultimately leads to Tom killing Dickie.

In addition, Tom never had a lot of money during his childhood. Even later in life, his aunt did not help Tom a lot financially. This explains why Tom craves a life of comfort and luxury.

Whilst this does not justify his criminal actions, one can still see how his childhood has definitely shaped Tom and helped him become a criminal.

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