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. 16 Dec. 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 December 16, 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 December 16, 2018, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/The-Girl-on-the-Train/.

The Girl on the Train | Rachel (Chapter 15) | Summary

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Summary

On Tuesday, July 23, 2013, Rachel searches the newspapers and watches TV all day long, hoping to catch the latest news about Megan. She reads that Kamal has a conviction for domestic violence and feels vindicated in her suspicions of him. Later that day when Kamal is released without charge, she is sure that they let a murderer go free.

On Wednesday, July 24, 2013, Cathy wakes Rachel up, warning her that she'll lose her job if she keeps drinking and missing work. Rachel still can't bring herself to admit the truth and instead drinks all day, getting more and more upset as she learns that the domestic violence charge against Kamal was a mistake and that the press has painted him like a victim of overzealous police work.

The next morning Rachel realizes that she missed a call from Scott. She is elated that he needs her, showers, gets dressed, and calls him back. Instead of needing her, Scott mocks her as an unstable drunk not even the police would trust.

It is Friday, July 26, 2013, and Rachel has been in bed for an entire day. It's been raining heavily, and she has had recurring nightmares of being trapped, sometimes in the underpass at Witney Station. She worries that Megan will never be found and writes e-mails to Scott, apologizing that she didn't do more, that she didn't see anything that Saturday.

Realizing that she doesn't have enough money to go to a bar, she wanders the streets in the rain. She calls Tom, who tells her that Anna saw her that Saturday, that she was drunk and abusive, and that he was looking for her. He wanted to drive her home, but when he returned with his car, she was gone. Rachel asks if he saw Megan that evening, but he says he didn't. Tom asks if Rachel saw her and did something to her, but Rachel denies it. She tells him that she had informed the police about Megan having an affair with Kamal Abdic.

On Monday, July 29, 2013, Rachel rides to Witney Station, hoping to run into the red-haired man. Instead, she runs into Scott. It is raining so hard he invites her to his house—his mother is gone. He is upset that Kamal has been released because of insufficient evidence, although they found hair follicles and blood matching Megan's on his car. Rachel and Scott both still believe Kamal Abdic is involved. When Scott asks her what happened in her marriage, she tells him that she started drinking when she couldn't get pregnant, that she was hard to live with, and that Anna provided solace to Tom.

That evening at home, Cathy confronts Rachel. Her boyfriend Damien ran into her old boss and learned the truth about Rachel's unemployment.

On Thursday, August 1, 2013, Rachel wakes up from another nightmare. She spends all day drinking in front of TV and learns that a body has been found in the woods. It is Megan.

Analysis

The case slowly disappears from front-page headlines and life returns to normal for those not directly involved. Rachel, however, cannot move on. Convinced that Kamal Abdic is involved although the police let him go, she feels guilty that her testimony was not taken seriously because she is an alcoholic. When Scott tells her so directly and tells her that the police believe she is a rubbernecker who inserts herself into other people's lives to feel important, she falls into a deep depression.

Rachel knows they are right: she has nothing to live for. She is divorced, does not have children, and her relationship to her friend Cathy is superficial at best, given she cannot even bring herself to tell her that she has lost her job. Without a job Rachel is about to run out of money, and her unstable living situation is a constant reminder that she might end up on the street—homeless, broke, and alone.

Trying to help solve Megan's case seems to be the only thing that gave her life purpose. Realizing that she cannot really help, that her testimony is considered unreliable because her memories are drenched in alcohol, increases her sense of guilt and decreases her sense of self-worth. Rachel is stuck in the vicious cycle of self-medicating depression with alcohol, which in turn deepens her depression.

The juxtaposition of Rachel's dismal situation right after Anna's brief section highlighting the happy facade of her life serves as a stern reminder that one should take nothing for granted. After all, not too long ago, Rachel herself was a gainfully employed married woman with a nice suburban home, not unlike Anna. Rachel's fast decline into alcoholism and Megan's disappearance show all too clearly that life is fickle and beyond an individual's control.

As Rachel's nightmares keep recurring, the reader's sense of dread increases as hope for Megan's safe return diminishes. Suspicion still rests with Kamal and Scott, both with strong motives in the love triangle Rachel believes to have played out among them. In her nightmares Rachel feels like she is suffocating. The reader cannot help but wonder if this is a metaphor for her stifling situation, mired in alcohol and depression, or a memory of that Saturday night.

Convinced that it is the latter, or perhaps in denial that it could be the first, Rachel is sure she holds the key to the mystery in her fractured memory and begins to play detective. She categorizes her memory flashes, trying to analyze them and find a way to recover more.

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