The Girl on the Train

by

Paula Hawkins

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The Girl on the Train: Megan: Six Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Thursday, June 13, 2013. Megan awakes from a fitful half-sleep feeling hot and suffocated. She resents Scott’s presence in her bed—and how small her life has become. She is unable to sleep at night. She feels that dead ends are closing in all around her, and she wants to run away. Though therapy helped for a little while, her old flightiness has returned. She is determined to talk to her lover and make him listen to her once and for all.
Megan believes that she is running out of options; she feels trapped in her relationship with Scott. She knows that unless she becomes a mother, she won’t fulfill his hopes and expectations for her—and if she can’t escape with her lover, she’ll have to sacrifice what she really wants in life in order to keep her husband.
Themes
Women and Society Theme Icon
Secrets and Lies Theme Icon
Motherhood, Duty, and Care Theme Icon
That evening, while Scott thinks that Megan is at the movies with Tara, Megan goes to Kamal’s house and knocks on the door. He is surprised but not unhappy to see her, and he invites her in. Megan apologizes for her behavior the last time they saw each other and says that she has something to tell Kamal. Kamal says that he can’t counsel her anymore, but Megan asks him to listen to her one last time—as a friend. Kamal agrees. He pours Megan some wine and they sit together at his kitchen table. Megan begins pouring out the truth about her past.
Though Megan has pushed Kamal away through her inappropriate behavior toward him, it seems that he cannot turn her away in a moment of need. Megan is clearly at a breaking point—she feels that if she doesn’t confront the truth about herself, she will not be able to survive her current circumstances.
Themes
Women and Society Theme Icon
Secrets and Lies Theme Icon
Megan tells Kamal about moving into Mac’s isolated cottage near the sea. Days would go by without the two of them seeing another soul. Megan was happy—she was 17 and free. Then, she got pregnant. When she realized she was expecting, it was already too late for an abortion. Though neither Megan nor Mac wanted a child, Megan “just carried on” with life. She didn’t go to a doctor or take prenatal vitamins. Both of them ignored the pregnancy almost entirely until the child arrived, delivered at home by a friend with some nursing training. Megan named the child Libby and loved her instantly.
Megan was already a mother once—and she clearly lost or abandoned the baby, given that the child is no longer around. This revelation explains her aversion to having more children, as she likely feels she can’t live up to societal ideals of how a mother should be. Megan clearly carries the scars of trauma from whatever happened between her, Mac, and Libby—and as she reveals the story to Kamal, she begins to dismantle the secrets she’s kept hidden for so long. 
Themes
Women and Society Theme Icon
Secrets and Lies Theme Icon
Motherhood, Duty, and Care Theme Icon
One day, when Libby was just a few months old, Megan and Mac got into a horrible fight. Mac left the house. Megan was freezing in the unheated cabin and decided to take a bath to warm up. She brought Libby into the tub with her. Megan fell asleep—and when she woke up, Libby was face-down in the water, dead. Having confessed her darkest secret, Megan waits for Kamal to react adversely; instead, he pulls Megan into his arms. She realizes that she is safe with Kamal. Megan’s phone begins ringing: it is Tara, reporting that Scott has called her four times looking for Megan. Megan thanks Tara for the warning and hangs up. She tells Kamal that she doesn’t want to leave. Kamal tells her to come back any time, and Megan kisses Kamal—this time, he does not pull away from her.
Megan reveals the horrible secret she’s been guarding for years: she was responsible for the death of her first child. Megan has carried this pain and shame without confiding in anyone, likely fearing both criminal punishment and social ostracization. With Kamal, however, Megan begins to see that her mistakes do not define her—and that to be free of secrets is to be unburdened and able to start over. Megan has been gaslighting herself into believing that she is a bad person because of one terrible mistake—and now she sees that she no long has to hurt herself.
Themes
Women and Society Theme Icon
Gaslighting, Memory, Repression, and the Self  Theme Icon
Secrets and Lies Theme Icon
Motherhood, Duty, and Care Theme Icon
Related Quotes
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