The Girl on the Train | Study Guide

Paula Hawkins

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The Girl on the Train | Rachel (Chapter 21) | Summary



That same day, Wednesday, August 7, 2013, Scott calls Rachel and asks if he can come over to get away from the media. He is devastated because he learned that Megan was pregnant when she died, and Scott assumes that he was the father. They speculate that Kamal might have thought it is his baby and planted the baby killer story as a red herring to distract from his own motive. When Cathy comes home Rachel takes Scott to her bedroom where he spends the night.

The next day Rachel goes to her second visit with Kamal Abdic. She tells Kamal about her infertility, and his kindness soothes her.

On Friday, August 9, 2013, Rachel is on her way to Scott's house. The police found the body of Megan's first baby, which means Scott can no longer deny that the story Kamal told is true. On her way to Scott's Rachel remembers going home early in her marriage and looking forward to making love. She feels a similar excitement now on her way to see Scott.


As the story progresses and further details about Megan, Scott, Kamal, Rachel, Anna, and Tom emerge, less is certain. Megan's second pregnancy creates an entirely new set of circumstances, providing a new motive for the suspects involved. Her lover, presumably Kamal, might have wanted to kill her to avoid responsibility for the pregnancy. Her husband, Scott, might have assumed that the baby was her lover's and killed her in a jealous fit. Although Rachel has in previous chapters ruled out both of them, they must be ruled back in. Even a gentle man like Kamal might kill when his livelihood is endangered, and even a man who loves his wife might kill because of jealousy. It seems that even with more pieces of the puzzle available, the picture remains fractured.

Similarly, Megan's hand in the death of her first baby creates an entirely new set of circumstances, seemingly providing a new light on her character. Armed with just the facts as presented in the media, Rachel now considers her a killer. Like Anna in the chapter before, Rachel is willing to revise her image of Megan completely—from beautiful artist with the perfect life to adulteress to baby killer—and quickly rushes to judgment. Like everyone else, Rachel turns against her.

Rachel's nightmares, in which everyone turns against her, take on new significance. Rachel is a mirror image of Megan, the one being judged harshly because of a transgression. At the same time Rachel is the judge, turning against Megan just like everyone else.

Rachel's new version of Megan allows her to shed all scruples when thinking of Scott. Attracted to him all along, she allows her sexual desires to take over without feeling any guilt over going after another woman's man. Moral inhibitions, Rachel rationalizes, do not come into play with a woman who killed and thus lost all moral high ground. In that, she is a mirror image of Anna, who rejected all guilt for breaking up a marriage by claiming that Rachel's drinking drove her man away. Like Anna, who slept with a married man, and like Megan, who betrayed her husband, Rachel engages in morally questionable behavior.

Rachel, Megan, and Anna, three women who at first glance seemed so different from each other, have more and more in common.

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