The Girl on the Train

by

Paula Hawkins

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

Summary
Analysis
Saturday, August 3, 2013. Rachel wakes from a dream in which she is being pursued through the woods. She can hear Cathy cleaning. Rachel has not left her room since Thursday—yet she vows that, starting tomorrow, she’ll get herself together and stop drinking. She has a voicemail from Rachel’s mother offering to give her some money and asking if she wants to meet for lunch in London. Rachel feels that she needs a drink before she calls her mother back to talk. As Rachel is about to put her phone down, she sees she has another message: it’s from Scott, left at nearly one in the morning. 
Rachel hasn’t been getting any worse since the news about Megan came out—but she certainly hasn’t been getting any better. She’s still trying to numb herself with alcohol, and she’s still experiencing frightening and mysterious dreams that may or may not offer clues as to what happened on that fateful Saturday night. Rachel, however, doesn’t want to truly confront anything in her life, past or present.
Themes
Gaslighting, Memory, Repression, and the Self  Theme Icon
Addiction, Dependency, and Abuse Theme Icon
Secrets and Lies Theme Icon
Motherhood, Duty, and Care Theme Icon
Rachel has a drink before she gets on the train to go into London. Once on the train, she sees pictures of Megan on discarded newspaper and every open iPad and computer: Megan is, as Rachel knew she would be, the girl found in the woods. Rachel closes her eyes at the signal, too sad even to look out at the houses. Just then, a man sits down beside her—the redheaded man from the Saturday of Megan’s disappearance. He greets Rachel and asks if she remembers him from a few weeks ago, even though she was “a bit wasted.” As the man spies a newspaper with Megan’s face on it, he remarks upon how sad and strange it is that the two of them were in Witney the night of her disappearance. The man asks Rachel if she remembers anything.
Rachel encounters the redheaded man again for the first time since the night of Megan’s disappearance—now, she has a chance to figure out if he has a role in all of this. However, Rachel knows that to carry on a conversation with this man would mean potentially uncovering memories that she doesn’t actually want to confront yet.
Themes
Addiction, Dependency, and Abuse Theme Icon
Secrets and Lies Theme Icon
Suddenly, Rachel does remember something: a fist coming toward her. Rachel panics, stands up, and hurries to the other end of the carriage. She still can’t remember exactly what happened—but she is full of the same confusion and terror that she felt that night. She closes her eyes and remembers more: a blonde woman in a blue dress walking away from her. She realizes that the figure must be Anna
Rachel fears that the redheaded man is perhaps the figure who attacked her and inspired so much terror and pain in her that fateful night—yet the memory of Anna seems to suggest otherwise, as the man seemingly wasn’t even there. Rachel’s memories are so fragmented that she can’t possibly interpret them in this piecemeal fashion—she needs more concrete information, yet getting it terrifies her. 
Themes
Gaslighting, Memory, Repression, and the Self  Theme Icon
Addiction, Dependency, and Abuse Theme Icon
Secrets and Lies Theme Icon