The Girl on the Train | Study Guide

Paula Hawkins

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The Girl on the Train | Rachel (Chapter 19) | Summary

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Summary

On Sunday, August 4, 2013, Rachel wakes up from another nightmare in which Tom turns everyone against her because she has done something bad. She recounts having called Scott on the previous day, telling him she needs to talk to him, and he invited her over.

When she arrives Rachel tells him she thinks she saw Anna that night. He gets angry, thinking that she is trying to get back at Anna and her ex. Scott is now a suspect because Kamal considers him an emotional abuser and because the police found a message from him on her phone, yelling at her. He begs her to try and remember that night, but Rachel can only remember bits and pieces. Rachel wonders whether she keeps going back to Scott because there is something she saw but cannot remember. She wonders if a therapist can help her unlock her memories.

On Tuesday, August 6, 2013, Rachel has an appointment with Kamal Abdic. Rachel is terrified of Kamal, yet when she actually meets him, he is warm and caring. She tells him about her marriage, about her drinking, and about her blackouts. She also admits that she feels bad about whatever she did, but not bad enough, because it feels as if her behavior is removed from her.

On Wednesday, August 7, 2013, Rachel wakes up after another nightmare. She remembers fighting with Tom about an expensive trip he took to Las Vegas with friends when that money could have been used for another try at IVF. Tom tells her that she was drunk, broke their wedding photograph, and called him selfish. She remembers hating herself that day, but she feels she had a right to be angry. She reads about the death of Megan's baby In the newspaper.

Analysis

Rachel believes that Kamal is Megan's killer and makes an appointment hoping to catch him in an emotional reaction that might confirm her suspicion. But when she meets Kamal, he is so warm and caring that she dismisses the idea that he could be violent. Her assumptions about Kamal are not based on evidence but solely on her preconceived notion of a killer.

Rachel begins to question the way she forms her impressions of other people, and this pattern of thought is reinforced when she finds out that Megan killed her baby, and thus by definition is a killer. Her impression of the way Megan looked and carried herself out on that balcony led her to assume that she had a perfect life. Having since learned that she was an adulteress and a baby killer, she has to admit that her assumptions about her were as false as her preconceived assumptions about Kamal Abdic.

Does this mean that all her assumptions may be wrong? In her session with Kamal Rachel admits that she feels bad about her drunken conduct, but not bad enough, as if her behavior was not hers. Recalling a fight with Tom about spending money on a frivolous trip to Las Vegas when they could have used the money for IVF, she feels dissociated from the behavior Tom described the next day because she cannot imagine that she would have broken their wedding picture. Given that she suffers from frequent blackouts and therefore relies on Tom to fill in the blanks, she apologized anyway and felt terrible for having hurt him so. But she now feels that she had a right to be angry, even though she may have chosen the wrong way to express it. At the very least Tom should have understood her anger rather than making her feel guilty for breaking the picture.

Seen in conjunction with her nightmares, in which Tom turns everyone against her, the perfect husband suddenly seems manipulative. Questioning the truth of Tom's version of this fight and the appropriateness of his sour reaction to her understandable criticism, she allows for the realization that Tom may not be the perfect man she thought he was and that she may not have been the inadequate wife she feels she was. It seems as if all characters in this novel are not necessarily who they seem to be at first glance, illustrating the idea that it is impossible to ever know, let alone judge, another person.

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