The Girl on the Train

by

Paula Hawkins

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

Summary
Analysis
Monday, July 15, 2013. As Rachel gets up to leave for work, Cathy hands her a formal eviction notice and gives her a big, sad hug. Rachel waits to cry until she is on the train. She tries to think about where she took a wrong turn in life—she feels it must have been when, in her early days of marriage to Tom, she began wishing for a family. Once that happened, she believes, the two of them were never enough. At the signal, Rachel looks out at number 15 and sees Jason standing on the terrace, seemingly looking right at her. She feels afraid.
In this passage, Rachel connects her present state of disarray to an inciting event in her past: her failure to become pregnant while still married to Tom. Because Rachel felt that she failed to live up to society’s expectations of womanhood and motherhood, she began destroying herself from the inside out. Now, she has lost the core of herself entirely and is unable to remake herself in a new image divorced from what society believes she should be.
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
Motherhood, Duty, and Care Theme Icon
Related Quotes
Later that evening, Rachel is hit by a taxi while crossing the road. In an emergency room in London, as a doctor stitches up a cut from the collision, he notices a bump on Rachel’s head. He asks her what happened. She says she hit her head the night before getting into a car, but the doctor explains that the bump looks more like someone hit Rachel with something sharp. Rachel suddenly experiences a flashback of ducking down to avoid a blow—but she is unsure if it is real or not.
As someone else sees Rachel’s wounds for the first time, it becomes clear that there is more to the story of what happened on Saturday night than meets the eye. The suggestion that Rachel was bludgeoned triggers a revealing flashback in which she recalls trying to avoid being beaten. Hawkins deepens the mystery of what happened—yet because Rachel is an unreliable narrator, it is impossible for even her to tell if her memories are trustworthy. 
Themes
Gaslighting, Memory, Repression, and the Self  Theme Icon
Addiction, Dependency, and Abuse Theme Icon
Secrets and Lies Theme Icon
Rachel asks the doctor to call Cathy for her. The doctor steps out to do so, and Rachel recalls how she got hit by the taxi: by running into the road after reading the news that Jess—whose real name is Megan Hipwell—is missing. Rachel recalls reading the news article on the computer at a London library—and glimpsing Megan’s husband, whose name she now knows is Scott. As Rachel is lost in thought, the doctor returns to tell her that Cathy is here for her.
This passage shows that although Rachel was furious with “Jess” (Megan) for cheating on her husband, the discovery that Megan is missing sends Rachel into an emotional tailspin. The “golden” girl she admired from afar is now gone—and the loss hits Rachel hard.
Themes
Women and Society Theme Icon
Secrets and Lies Theme Icon