The Girl on the Train

by

Paula Hawkins

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

Summary
Analysis
Sunday, August 4, 2013. Rachel wakes from yet another nightmare, one in which she has the feeling of having done something terribly wrong and drawn the ire of everyone in her life. Last night, when Rachel got home, she drank a bit and then called Scott back—he insisted, however, that he’d called her by mistake. Rachel could hear Scott’s mother puttering around in the background. Rachel asked if they could meet soon to talk about Anna Watson, so Scott asked Rachel to come over the next day. 
Through her alcoholism—and now, through her involvement with Scott—Rachel has put herself in several positions over the year in which she feels ashamed of her actions. These feelings clearly haunt Rachel, though they don’t deter her from continuing the vicious cycles she’s created for herself.
Themes
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Now, when Rachel arrives at Scott’s house, she finds him looking disheveled and defeated. When she asks Scott about Megan’s relationship with Anna, Scott says that there was nothing remarkable between the women. Rachel confesses that she thinks she saw Anna the night Megan went missing. She admits that she was drinking. Scott tells Rachel to stop bringing her “bullshit” problems to him—he has real issues, and he’s still being treated as a suspect because Abdic told authorities that Scott was emotionally abusive. Scott kicks a chair in anger as he tells Rachel that he believes he will be convicted of murdering Megan.
Scott clearly feels trapped by Abdic’s accusations, and Rachel’s uncertainty about what she saw on the night of Megan’s disappearance only adds to Scott’s frustration. Rachel’s desire to figure out what happened on Saturday night and clear her own conscience runs counter to Scott’s desire to prove himself innocent in the face of mounting suspicions from the authorities. He cannot help her while trying to help himself.
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As Scott collapses, sobbing, Rachel puts her hand on his neck to comfort him. She assures him that things will be okay, but Scott reveals that he sent a cruel text message to Megan on the night of her disappearance. Scott begs Rachel to tell the police that Scott loved Megan and that they were happy. Rachel, however, says that the police won’t believe her because they think of her as an unreliable alcoholic.
Scott wants Rachel to vouch for him—but his desperation makes him forget the fact that Rachel is, to the authorities, completely untrustworthy because of the things that Tom and Anna have told them about her. The web of lies and secrets grows more and more complicated each day.
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Scott’s mood changes quickly. He rounds on Rachel and orders her to remember something, anything, from the drunken haze of the Saturday Megan went missing. But Rachel can remember only bits and pieces: falling in the underpass, finding blood on her hands, feeling afraid. Scott begs Rachel to let him know if she remembers anything. On the train home, Rachel realizes that perhaps with the help of a therapist—like Kamal Abdic—she could recover her memories. 
When Scott fears for his life and his freedom, he becomes violent and vindictive. He wants Rachel to find a way to save him and clear his name—but Rachel can barely do those things for herself, and she fears that she is running out of time to find the answers she needs.
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Thursday, August 6, 2013. Rachel has an appointment this afternoon at 4:30 to see Kamal Abdic. She was so excited last night that she could barely sleep. Rachel is desperate to see Abdic not just because she wants to recover her lost memories—but because she is convinced that Scott is innocent, and she is determined to help him clear his name.
Rachel makes an appointment with Abdic, further deepening the parallel between her and Megan. Rachel is winding herself even deeper into the complicated web of mysterious individuals circling Megan’s disappearance.
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Later, as Rachel prepares to board the train home, she reflects on her afternoon at Abdic’s office. She recalls the fear and anxiety she felt as she entered the practice—she was worried that someone would know who she was. But as Abdic summoned her into his office and began talking to her, Rachel realized that he thought she was just any other patient. Rachel decided to use the session to be honest about her problems, and she began telling Abdic about her alcoholism and her blackouts. She wanted to figure out why she often feels she that would never do the terrible things others have told her she’s done while drunk.
Rachel has come to Abdic’s office in search of information about him—and clues to the things she can’t remember about her own life. As their conversation unfolds, however, she finds herself with the unique opportunity to tell someone the truth about herself. Rachel hasn’t confided in anyone about her feelings surrounding her divorce and her alcohol dependency—now, she has the chance.
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As the session continued, Rachel delved into the trauma of her husband’s affair but insisted that her drinking was what drove him away. Rachel began crying, but she refused to talk with Abdic about her struggles with infertility. Abdic suggested that they discuss more next time. Rachel left the session feeling horribly guilty for letting herself open up to Abdic—and for wanting to go back soon.
Rachel still can’t open all the way up to Abdic—many of the issues that plague her are too raw to talk about. Still, Rachel feels better after the session—she’s perhaps beginning to see that the only way to put an end to the gauntlet of secrets and lies that have come to define her life is to free herself from each one.
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Wednesday, August 7, 2013. Rachel wakes from yet another dream in which she feels inexplicably guilty and ashamed—in the dream, everyone in her life sided with Tom against her. As she stirs, she recalls a time when Tom told her there was no money for another round of IVF—yet soon after, he booked an extravagant trip with some friends. The two had a horrible fight, and Rachel got drunk. The next morning, Tom told Rachel that she’d violently smashed their wedding photographs and called him horrible names.
Rachel believes that during her marriage to Tom, she took out her frustration and anger on him. Because of this, she believes that something violent could have transpired during the hours she cannot recall on the night of Megan’s disappearance. Yet Tom’s behavior—going on an expensive vacation after denying her another round of IVF—suggests that Tom was manipulative, if not outright abusive. It remains to be seen whether he told Rachel the truth about her actions, or if lying about her behavior was another way of exerting control within their relationship.
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To push the memory from her head, Rachel decides to go on a walk. She tries to pretend she is a normal woman out for a casual stroll. She gets lost in thought about the reality of her life—her entanglements with Scott and Kamal, her struggles to get sober—when suddenly, she spots a paper at a newsstand whose headline reads “WAS MEGAN A CHILD KILLER?
A new wrinkle in Megan’s case develops: the truth about Libby has seemingly come out. Rachel finds herself forced to confront yet again how the “golden” woman whom she imagined Megan to be doesn’t match up with who Megan actually was.
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