The Girl on the Train | Study Guide

Paula Hawkins

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The Girl on the Train | Megan (Chapter 2) | Summary



One year earlier, on Wednesday morning, May 12, 2012, Megan, the first-person-narrator of this section, listens to the sounds of the approaching train that often stops close to her house, imagining journeys to exotic places. That same evening she remembers witnessing a fight between two women a few houses down. She contemplated calling the police, but when one woman went back into the house carrying a baby, the situation seemed defused.

Several months later, on Tuesday, August 14, 2012, Megan is working as a nanny for Anna, the woman she saw fighting. Megan finds Anna very dull and longs for her old job at an art gallery in London. Two days later Megan quits her job as a nanny and wonders how she can tell Scott, her husband, who will be disappointed. She decides to tell him that Tom, Anna's husband, hit on her.

On Tuesday, September 20, 2012, Megan suffers from insomnia, and she thinks about her older brother, who died in an accident before they could go on the travels they had planned. Because she is depressed and being a wife does not fulfill her, she decides to see a therapist, Dr. Kamal Abdic, whom she meets with that evening.

Except her therapy sessions and occasional visits to the shops or a walk, Megan stays at home most of the time. On the evening of Tuesday, September 25, 2012, she feels restless and takes a walk. She stands underneath the underpass as the train rattles by. On her way home she passes by a man in his car, and they smile at each other.


The new narrator shakes reader out of the routine that has just been established, suggesting that this story is not about Rachel as she checks in every morning and evening. Megan's story begins about a year before Rachel's, yet it develops in less predictable intervals, sometimes skipping days, weeks, and even months as if to try and catch up, suggesting that the two stories will not run on parallel tracks but are on a collision course instead. Megan's story, the reader assumes, will interrupt Rachel's routine. The ending of this chapter, Megan smiling at a man in a car near the underpass, foreshadows the events this novel will unravel.

Megan's description of the sounds of the train slowing down and stopping near her house before picking up speed to rumble by immediately suggests that Megan is Jess, the woman Rachel has been watching from the train. While Rachel imagined the perfect life of a perfectly happy couple, the life she once lived and longs to live again, Megan fees trapped in her suburban life. Megan can't and doesn't want to just be someone's wife, and she feels out of place in the suburban idyll Rachel thinks she sees. In fact Megan feels as out of place in suburbia as Rachel does in Cathy's apartment.

The two different perspectives reveal how little Rachel really knows about the life she thinks she sees unfold near the tracks, suggesting that nothing is as it seems at first glance, on the surface, from the outside. People don't know much about each other and readily fill in the blanks with their own preconceived ideas and emotional biases. Longing for a happier time in her life, Rachel transfers this emotional fantasy onto Megan, although Megan's real emotional life is far more similar to Rachel's.

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