The Girl on the Train

by

Paula Hawkins

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The Girl on the Train: Rachel: Eighteen Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Sunday, August 18, 2013. Rachel, Tom, and Anna sit in the living room of number 23. Tom begins talking to Rachel, taunting her by unspooling memories of their relationship. When Evie begins to cry, Anna picks her up to change her. Tom insists that Anna change the baby in the room. Rachel asks why Tom killed Megan, and Tom responds that Megan was a lot like Rachel—she couldn’t let go of things. Tom reminds Rachel of the night Megan disappeared—under the underpass, he says, Rachel tried to kiss him and begged him to take her back.
Though Tom has managed to exert complete control over Rachel and Anna, this passage makes it clear that he is afraid of what the women in his life could potentially to do to him. Tom relies on a very careful calibration of psychological manipulation to maintain the control he has—and he seems to recognize that that is falling apart.
Themes
Women and Society Theme Icon
Gaslighting, Memory, Repression, and the Self  Theme Icon
Secrets and Lies Theme Icon
Tom turns to Anna and tells her that he never meant to kill Megan—but when she started talking about making him pay for her baby, he needed her to stop, so he began hitting her with a rock. After she was dead, he says, he drove her further into the woods, dug a grave, and buried her. He was counting on the police pinning the murder on Scott. Tom stands, walks over to Anna, and kisses her on the head. He picks Evie up from her lap and cuddles her.
Tom is confident enough in the psychological hold he’s attained over both Rachel and Anna to nonchalantly confess to murder in front of them. Tom believes that he has successfully gaslit both women into siding with him no matter what—but he has perhaps overestimated his hold on the situation.
Themes
Women and Society Theme Icon
Gaslighting, Memory, Repression, and the Self  Theme Icon
Secrets and Lies Theme Icon
Rachel seizes the moment to run for the door—but halfway there, she feels a horrible pain as Tom hits her in the head and drags her by her hair back to the living room. As Rachel begins losing consciousness, she hears Tom order Anna upstairs. He says he doesn’t want things to get nasty.
The physical fight with Tom mirrors the ideological fight Rachel and Anna are going through. Tom continues ordering the women around and dragging them around the house, providing a physical manifestation of the psychological and emotional work both women are doing to extricate themselves from his clutches.
Themes
Women and Society Theme Icon
Gaslighting, Memory, Repression, and the Self  Theme Icon
Addiction, Dependency, and Abuse Theme Icon
Secrets and Lies Theme Icon