The Girl on the Train

by

Paula Hawkins

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

Summary
Analysis
Thursday, August 15, 2013. Rachel is preparing for a job interview that Cathy has set up for her when Scott calls her to talk about what happened between them. Rachel says that they made a mistake. Scott, however, says he wants to talk in person. Rachel is hesitant, but Scott talks her into coming over. Earlier, Rachel read a story in the newspaper about the deceased father of Megan’s dead child—his death rules him out as a suspect and brings Scott back to the forefront of the investigation.
Rachel knows that she made a grave mistake in sleeping with Scott—and that if she isn’t careful about damage control, that mistake could come back to bite her in a major way. Even as Rachel knows that seeing Scott again is rocking the boat, she finds herself tempted by her desire for human connection.
Themes
Secrets and Lies Theme Icon
Rachel arrives Scott’s house to find him drunk and in a state of disarray. The house smells terrible. Scott offers Rachel a drink, but she refuses. Scott tells her that the DNA tests done on Megan’s fetus have come back: the child was neither Scott’s nor Kamal’s, meaning that Megan was seeing someone else. Scott angrily asks if Megan confided in Rachel about an affair with an unknown man. When Rachel says that Megan didn’t, Scott becomes angry and shoves Rachel into a chair. He yells at Rachel, pointing out that as Megan’s good friend, she must have known everything about Megan’s private life. When Rachel is silent, Scott reveals that he knows Rachel never even met Megan.
Scott has lured Rachel to his house under false pretenses. He knows she is a liar—and he is not planning on letting her off the hook for her deceptions easily. Scott sees Rachel’s actions as exceptionally egregious because she is a woman, and he seemingly expects women to behave in certain ways. While in the most fragile, vulnerable state of his life, Scott let someone new in—and he perceives Rachel’s betrayal as an affront to both his grief and to his manhood.
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
Rachel and Scott begin arguing. Rachel insists she only wanted to help the bereaved Scott by informing him about Kamal, but Scott accuses Rachel of being “insane.” He says that Riley asked him if he and Rachel are in a relationship—and that he answered her by saying he has higher “standards” than that. Riley told him that Rachel was “a sad little liar” who didn’t know Megan at all. Rachel’s phone beeps, and she moves toward her purse. Scott, however, grabs Rachel’s bag and dumps out its contents. He opens up her phone and reads a notification about her upcoming appointment with Dr. Abdic. Scott becomes even angrier and more frightened. He advances on Rachel and pushes her up against a wall, squeezing her throat with both hands.
In this passage, as Scott exposes Rachel’s lies, he seeks to use words—and, later, actions—to wound her as deeply as he can. He feels there is no excuse for her lie, which made him feel comfortable enough around her to surrender his secrets, his fears, and his intimacy. Now, he wants to punish her for wounding him in a time of great uncertainty and sadness.
Themes
Gaslighting, Memory, Repression, and the Self  Theme Icon
Secrets and Lies Theme Icon
Scott accuses Rachel of bringing information about him to Abdic and the authorities. Rachel insists, again, that she wants only to help Scott. She begs him to let her go. Scott releases his grip on Rachel’s throat but begins dragging her upstairs by the hair. He shoves her into a room, closes the door, and locks it. Rachel throws up on the carpet. After she finds a smashed picture of Scott and Megan in the corner of the room, she runs to the window, throws it open, and screams for help. Scott opens the door and shows Rachel a notepad he found in her purse: it is full of notes about Scott, Megan, and Abdic. Scott tells Rachel that she’s too pathetic for him to waste his time on, and he orders her out of the house. Rachel runs for the front door.
Rachel cannot explain to Scott what her motivations were in continuing to see him and help him. Not even she is certain of what her ultimate aims were in getting close to Scott, other than to remind herself of the “golden” ideal of love that she lost when Megan disappeared. Scott’s fury and violence in this passage seem to suggest to Rachel that Scott must have been responsible for Megan’s death—but there is, of course, more to human behavior than meets the eye.
Themes
Women and Society Theme Icon
Addiction, Dependency, and Abuse Theme Icon
Secrets and Lies Theme Icon
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Friday, August 16, 2013. Rachel has barely slept after a drunken, terror-filled night trying to escape memories of her harrowing encounter with Scott. After leaving Scott’s house, she left Tom a note in the mailbox of number 23 and called the police to tell them that Scott beat and imprisoned her. The detectives, however, only asked what Rachel was doing at Scott’s house. They ordered her to stay away from him, warning her that she was jeopardizing their progress. Now, Rachel showers and dresses: she is going to stop at the station and give an official report before going to her job interview.
This passage demonstrates how society often blames women for putting themselves in dangerous situations. The men who are actually responsible for causing them harm, however, aren’t held accountable. This shows the extent to which women tend to be manipulated and gaslighted—not just by men whom they know personally, but by society as a whole.
Themes
Women and Society Theme Icon
Gaslighting, Memory, Repression, and the Self  Theme Icon
Secrets and Lies Theme Icon
That afternoon, after her interview, Rachel is on her way to the train when the redheaded man grabs her arm and apologizes for his behavior on the train the other day. He introduces himself as Andy and invites Rachel for a drink, and she accepts. At the pub, she asks him what happened on that Saturday night at the underpass, when he helped her up off the road. Andy tells her that he found her beneath the underpass, cut up and upset. Andy assumed she’d had a fight with a boyfriend, because a man and a woman were walking away from Rachel toward their car. Even after hearing another person’s account of the events of the night—which seem fairly ordinary—Rachel feels unsettled. She doesn’t remember seeing Anna with a baby in her arms; she wonders where Evie could have been.
As Rachel finally has a conversation with the redheaded man, she finds herself perturbed by Andy’s inability to give her much more information than she already has. Rachel is desperate to figure out what happened on the night Megan went missing—but it’s becoming clear that the truth about what happened isn’t necessarily the truth she wants to hear.
Themes
Addiction, Dependency, and Abuse Theme Icon
Secrets and Lies Theme Icon
Saturday, August 17, 2013. Rachel calls Tom and asks why he didn’t respond to her note. Tom says that he didn’t get a note—but that if Rachel left one, it would explain why Anna has been mad at him. Tom angrily asks Rachel what she wants. Rachel asks him for details about their encounter on the night of Megan’s disappearance—and whether Anna was with him when he came out looking for her in the car. Tom says that she wasn’t—and the he regrets wasting his time trying to help the “filthy, stinking drunk,” Rachel. He tells her to stop calling, stop visiting, and stop leaving notes; then, he hangs up abruptly. 
Rachel continues to beg Tom to help her understand the truth of what happened on the night Megan disappeared. But Tom becomes more and more defensive—eventually turning the tables on Rachel and insisting that her inability to remember what happened is a worse offense than anything else that took place that night. Tom is still gaslighting and emotionally abusing Rachel.  
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
Sunday, August 18, 2013. Rachel sits at home in front of the TV, feeling lonely and stupid for believing that either Tom or Scott had feelings for her. She is determined, however, not to drink in an attempt to numb the pain she feels—she wants to experience everything. As Tom’s words run through her head, however, she recalls one time when she woke up hungover and in pain, covered in blood. Tom showed her the bruises she’d inflicted upon him—though Rachel swore she never would have hit him, Tom insisted she did. After a while, Rachel says, she learned to just apologize whenever she woke up uncertain of what happened the night before. She is determined to remain strong and sober and to avoid something like that happening again.
Rachel begins to see that drinking is not a defense mechanism—in fact, it makes her more vulnerable. Rachel is starting to piece together disparate memories and hazy information about her past, and she now sees alcohol as a liability she can’t afford. Rachel is in the midst of a dangerous and precarious situation, and she must keep a level head if she plans on figuring out the truth and extricating herself from the web she’s gotten herself entangled within.
Themes
Gaslighting, Memory, Repression, and the Self  Theme Icon
Addiction, Dependency, and Abuse Theme Icon
Secrets and Lies Theme Icon
As Rachel falls asleep to the sound of the TV, she experiences yet another sudden flashback—she remembers being in the underpass and seeing Tom come toward her. He slapped her across the mouth, she remembers—and then he punched her with his keys still in his hand, bringing the serrated metal down on her head.
Rachel’s flashback in this passage seems to confirm that no matter what Tom says about what happened the night Megan disappeared, he was present—and he was violent toward Rachel.
Themes
Gaslighting, Memory, Repression, and the Self  Theme Icon
Addiction, Dependency, and Abuse Theme Icon
Secrets and Lies Theme Icon