The Girl on the Train | Study Guide

Paula Hawkins

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The Girl on the Train | Megan (Chapter 16) | Summary



On June 13, 2013, about a month before she disappears, Megan is lying awake at night. She feels hot and suffocated, finds her life boring, and wants to run away. She wants to see Kamal again and tell him the whole story because it will make her feel better. She goes to his place and apologizes, and he agrees to listen as a friend. Megan tells him about her life with Mac after her brother's death. They were happy until she got pregnant and had a baby when she was still a teenager. One night when she was alone, she fell asleep in the bath with her baby on her chest, and the baby drowned. She receives a call from Tara that Scott is looking for her. Before she leaves, Megan and Kamal kiss.


Kamal's gentle and supportive reaction to Megan's harrowing story about her baby's accidental death makes it hard to believe that he could be involved in Megan's death. But the kiss that ends the chapter seems like evidence of their affair, and the previous information about blood on his car seems like evidence of foul play. Since this is Megan's perspective, the reader has to consider that her positive and supportive impressions of Kamal are as false as Rachel's were about Megan. The novel seems to suggest that we never know that much about other people because we cannot see what is going on behind the closed doors and drawn blinds of their homes.

Megan feels like she is suffocating in suburbia. The train rushing by every morning and every night is, counterintuitively, a symbol for her inertia. While she is watching the trains roll by, imagining the trips she could take, she is going nowhere. She is stuck in her past, arrested by the overwhelming sense of guilt over her baby's death and in the sorrow for her loss.

The parallels to Rachel are striking. Rachel is riding the train every day, imagining a happier life along the tracks, but she never moves. She too, is stuck in the past, arrested in her sense of guilt over her drinking, which is meant to drown her sorrow over never being able to have a child.

Neither Megan nor Rachel is readily able to share her grief and remorse, for fear that she will be judged and exposed. However, the novel suggests that there can be no harsher critic than the burdened soul itself.

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