The Girl on the Train | Study Guide

Paula Hawkins

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Course Hero. "The Girl on the Train Study Guide." Course Hero. 3 Aug. 2017. Web. 19 July 2018. <https://www.coursehero.com/lit/The-Girl-on-the-Train/>.

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Course Hero. (2017, August 3). The Girl on the Train Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved July 19, 2018, from https://www.coursehero.com/lit/The-Girl-on-the-Train/

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Course Hero. "The Girl on the Train Study Guide." August 3, 2017. Accessed July 19, 2018. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/The-Girl-on-the-Train/.

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Course Hero, "The Girl on the Train Study Guide," August 3, 2017, accessed July 19, 2018, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/The-Girl-on-the-Train/.

The Girl on the Train | Rachel (Chapter 11) | Summary

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Summary

On Sunday, July 21, 2013, Rachel recalls that on the previous day she rushed past Tom and Anna's house, hoping not to be seen, knocked at Scott's door, and was intimidated by his physical appearance yet again. Once inside the house she feels as if she had been there before, but only because the house is so similar to the one she shared with Tom. Scott looks unkempt and disheveled. Over tea Rachel discloses that she is Tom's ex-wife and used to live down the street. She finally tells him that she saw Megan with another man. Trying to figure out which one of the men in Megan's life it could be, they go online to research her therapist's website, and Rachel recognizes him. She leaves in a hurry.

Later that day Scott calls her to tell her he suggested to the police to talk to Kamal Abdic. When Scott asks if Megan ever spoke about him, Rachel tells him how happy Megan was. He admits that they had a fight the night she disappeared. After the fight he went to a bar, then home and to sleep. He never tried calling her because he assumed she was spending the night with Tara.

On Monday, July 22, 2013, Rachel reads that a man has been arrested in connection with Megan's disappearance, and she assumes it is Scott. Thinking back to the antiseptic smell in his apartment and his physical strength, she wonders if he hurt her. Rachel gets off at Witney Station and notices blood on one of the steps and wonders if it is hers or Megan's. At Scott's house all the curtains are drawn. She stands on his porch but doesn't knock, but as she is about leave, the door opens and a man pulls her in.

Analysis

Rachel's comment that she rushed by Tom and Anna's house because she does not want to be seen clearly reveals that Rachel's narration covers the same time frame as the previous section narrated by Anna. The reader is all too aware that we are getting two perspectives of the same event, stressing that the truth might have several aspects.

While Anna assumes that Rachel's presence in the neighborhood is connected to her, Rachel's perspective reveals that her visit has nothing to do with Anna at all. She is in the neighborhood to visit Scott and help uncover the reasons behind Megan's disappearance. Just as Rachel was making assumptions about Megan's life from the window of the train, Anna is making assumptions about Rachel's life from the windows of her kitchen. It will later turn out that Megan's disappearance has a lot to do with Anna after all. Rachel's, Megan's, and Anna's tracks of life are on an unstoppable collision course.

Putting a lot of effort into her appearance for her visit to Scott suggests that Rachel does not want to be invisible to an attractive man. Like Megan and Anna, Rachel relies on her looks, evoking yet again the traditional idea of a woman's role in society: the sexy temptress casting her net to lure a husband. The three women, who don't really know each other, are compared and united in the way they relate to and subjugate themselves to the men in their lives.

Rachel is not out to seduce Scott, but she does not want him to dismiss her as an unappealing drunk. In fact she even declines the beer he offers. Her entire visit with Scott is full of half-truths and lies, casting a suspicious light on her motives for wanting to be involved in the lives of strangers. Her sense of having been in Scott's house before, though explained by the similarities to the house she shared with Tom, recalls Megan's sense of an intruder in the house. Is it possible that Rachel has been in the house before and doesn't remember?

On another, metaphorical level, the cookie cutter houses symbolizing the sameness of the suburban neighborhood and Rachel's tender description of their carefully designed interiors suggesting happy, wholesome homes provide a stark contrast to the lies, cheating, deception, and perhaps even violence going on behind their closed doors and drawn blinds. The home, a haven of safety and support, may not be safe after all.

Rachel notices an antiseptic smell in the kitchen, which might suggest that Scott cleaned up a bloody mess. His physical appearance supports this thought, given he is clearly strong enough to hurt Megan, or any other woman for that matter. When Scott admits that they had a fight the night Megan disappeared, Rachel wonders if he had already known about Megan's affair and harmed her in a bout of jealously. Yet, given her own experience with Tom, she feels empathy for the cheated spouse at the same time.

When the next day she learns that Scott has been arrested, she gets scared in hindsight, realizing that she might have been in the same room with a killer. Nonetheless, she cannot stay away. Ending the chapter with Rachel being pulled into the house without revealing by whom leaves the reader with a perfect cliffhanger. Is it Scott? Is he involved in Megan's disappearance? And does her disappearance mean that she is dead?

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