The Girl on the Train

by

Paula Hawkins

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

Summary
Analysis
Wednesday, August 7, 2013. Rachel is taking a shower when her phone begins ringing incessantly. As she steps out of the shower, she answers and finds a frantic Scott on the other end, complaining about how he cannot go home because of all the reporters waiting for him there. Scott asks if he can come over, and Rachel says that he’s welcome to. Ten minutes later, Scott arrives looking pale and shaky. He laments that every time he thinks things are as bad as they could possibly get, they get even worse. Today, Scott says, he got the news that Megan was pregnant when she was killed. Scott begins crying, and Rachel soon begins sobbing too.
Rachel continues inviting Scott more deeply into her life, knowing all the while that she’s playing with fire. Scott is not just a suspect in his pregnant wife’s murder but the subject of a press frenzy. Rachel, however, is so hungry for human connection—and so desperate to find a way of proving both herself and Scott innocent—that she disregards the potential risks he poses.
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Rachel hears Cathy coming and hurries Scott into her bedroom—she explains that Cathy might ask questions about his being here. Scott tells Rachel how hard things have been since the story about Megan’s first child broke. Detectives believe the deceased baby’s father may have killed Megan. Gaskill and Riley have questioned Scott about the story—but Scott knows very little about Megan’s past. He believes the “disturbed” Abdic leaked the story to keep the heat off of himself.
Rachel knows that the people in her life will be put off—even worried—by her association with Scott, yet she feels somehow responsible for Scott’s misery. The investigation is taking a profound psychological toll on Scott. He is reaching out to Rachel so frequently because he has nowhere else to turn—and because he has been conditioned to see women as emotional support systems.
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Rachel wants to discuss the case—including Megan’s pregnancy—further, but Scott is exhausted. Rachel urges him to stay at her place for the night and try to get some sleep. Scott falls asleep quickly, and Rachel lies down next to him. When she wakes up several hours later, he is already gone.
Scott falls asleep in Rachel’s bed, but he leaves in the middle of the night. This suggests that he knows they are getting too close too quickly—and that he needs to lie to himself about what’s happening between them.
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Thursday, August 8, 2013. In the morning, Rachel goes to yet another appointment at Abdic’s office. On her way, she vows to be honest with him. During the session she tells him the truth about her infertility: it’s the catalyst for her drinking problem and her depression. Abdic comforts Rachel and reminds her that there is still hope for her to be able to have a child one day. As Rachel leaves Abdic’s office, she contrasts his gentle demeanor against Scott’s rough, ragged personality.
Rachel spent so long thinking of Kamal as a suspect—now that she knows him, however, she has come to believe that he is incapable of the things the detectives have suspected him of doing. Rachel feels safe with Abdic—and thus she’s able to tell him more about her life and her pain that she’s ever told anyone. Importantly, Rachel outright confirms that her infertility is what’s driving her mental health issues and alcohol abuse.
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Friday, August 9, 2013. The next evening, Rachel is drinking on the train on her way to see Scott—he has asked her to come over. Last night, authorities recovered the remains of Megan’s first child buried on the East Anglian coast. Rachel gets off at Witney and makes her way to Blenheim Road, forgetting about the possibility of encountering Tom, or Anna, or a crowd of reporters. She doesn’t feel guilty about seeing Scott anymore because it turns out that Megan was never what Rachel thought she was. Rachel now knows that Megan was a killer.
Rachel has decided that it is easier to conceive of Megan as the villain in her own story than to confront the possibility that one of the men she knows—Scott, Tom, or Kamal—is responsible for Megan’s death. Rachel has been conditioned to view other women as more suspect and dangerous than men—much like Anna views Rachel as her foremost threat.
Themes
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Gaslighting, Memory, Repression, and the Self  Theme Icon
Secrets and Lies Theme Icon
Motherhood, Duty, and Care Theme Icon
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