The Girl on the Train

by

Paula Hawkins

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on The Girl on the Train can help.

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

Summary
Analysis
Monday, August 12, 2013. Rachel is with Tom in his car, parked at a local lake. Last night, he called and asked if they could meet. Rachel knows that his phone call has something to do with Anna spotting her on Blenheim Road. Now that Rachel is with Tom, she feels especially guilty for having sex with Scott. When Tom asks Rachel about her involvement with Scott, she assures him that they’re simply friendly. Tom tells Rachel that he’s concerned for her—after all, Scott is a murder suspect. Tom tells Rachel that he still cares for her, and Rachel begins to cry. Tom offers her money, but Rachel insists that she’s all right. Tom begs her to promise him that she’ll stay away from Scott, and Rachel agrees. She is full of joy—she believes that Tom is actually jealous.
In this passage, as Tom shows Rachel his sensitive side, Rachel begins to believe that there is a part of him that still wants her—or at least a part of him that doesn’t want her to be with anyone else. Rachel doesn’t realize that Tom is psychologically and emotionally manipulating her, echoing the patterns that seemingly defined their relationship while they were still married to each other.
Themes
Women and Society Theme Icon
Gaslighting, Memory, Repression, and the Self  Theme Icon
Secrets and Lies Theme Icon
Tuesday, August 13, 2013. The following night, Rachel has a nightmare: she sees another pile of clothes by the train tracks as she rides into London. She sees “Jess” and “Jason” on the terrace of number 15, chatting happily. Rachel anticipates moving forward, past number 23, where she believes that Tom will be waiting outside to wave to her—but the train won’t start again. Rachel screams in horror as Jason starts violently attacking Jess. The redheaded man approaches Rachel and urges her to calm down—it’s already too late to do anything.
This frightening dream speaks to many of Rachel’s greatest desires and terrors alike: she fears that Scott is violent and untrustworthy—and that there is something deficient within her that causes her to latch onto him so thoughtlessly. Rachel also longs for Tom’s attention and acknowledgement. Furthermore, she is plagued by who the redheaded man could be, and she wishes that she could figure out what role he plays in all of this.
Themes
Women and Society Theme Icon
Gaslighting, Memory, Repression, and the Self  Theme Icon
Secrets and Lies Theme Icon
The nightmare bothers Rachel all morning as she rides the train into Witney for her appointment with Abdic. Rachel wishes that she could tell him about her dream, but she’s afraid of revealing too much. Instead, she asks him about whether hypnosis can recover memories. Abdic, however, suggests that there are other ways to recall lost memories: talking about them, listening to music, or retracing one’s steps.
The source of Rachel’s anxiety and fear seems to be coming from deep within her and is seemingly tied to her past. She is determined to uncover the secrets of her own life and figure out which memories she can trust—and which ones she can’t. 
Themes
Gaslighting, Memory, Repression, and the Self  Theme Icon
Addiction, Dependency, and Abuse Theme Icon
Secrets and Lies Theme Icon
Abdic asks if there’s a specific memory Rachel wants to recall. She tells him about a night when she attacked Tom with a golf club; she woke in the morning unable to remember what had happened. Tom had to fill in the blanks for her. Rachel tells Abdic that weeks later, she was looking at the hole she’d allegedly left in the wall when she had a strange flashback of cowering on the floor as Tom stood over her with the golf club. Rachel says that she wants to uncover more memories like this one because the feelings she recalls—like fear—don’t fit with Tom’s version of what happened.
As Rachel begins talking about her past with Abdic, it becomes clear that Rachel’s lived experiences don’t line up with the things she’s been told about herself. It seems obvious that Rachel has suffered some kind of abuse—whether physical, emotional, or psychological—at the hands of Tom. Rachel, however, is not fully ready to confront that reality yet.
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
Related Quotes
Get the entire The Girl on the Train LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Girl on the Train PDF
After therapy, Rachel returns to the underpass at Witney to try to jog her memory. As she spots a woman in a blue trench coat walking farther down the road, she remembers seeing Anna wearing a blue dress and walking hurriedly away from her toward a waiting car—Tom’s car. Rachel realizes that this memory doesn’t make sense. According to Tom, he drove around looking for Rachel after she made a drunken scene on Blenheim Road—but Anna stayed home with Evie. Rachel walks to Blenheim Road and stands across from her old house, wishing she could ask Tom the truth about what happened.
Rachel continues uncovering memories of things that have happened to her while drunk—yet she feels completely detached from the narratives Tom has given her. Tom’s account of the night Megan disappeared doesn’t match up with Rachel’s memories. If Rachel wants to uncover the truth, she’ll have to confront the inconsistencies in her life—and try to find their roots. 
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