The Girl on the Train | Study Guide

Paula Hawkins

Download a PDF to print or study offline.

Study Guide
Cite This Study Guide

How to Cite This Study Guide

quotation mark graphic
MLA

Bibliography

Course Hero. "The Girl on the Train Study Guide." Course Hero. 3 Aug. 2017. Web. 20 Sep. 2018. <https://www.coursehero.com/lit/The-Girl-on-the-Train/>.

In text

(Course Hero)

APA

Bibliography

Course Hero. (2017, August 3). The Girl on the Train Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved September 20, 2018, from https://www.coursehero.com/lit/The-Girl-on-the-Train/

In text

(Course Hero, 2017)

Chicago

Bibliography

Course Hero. "The Girl on the Train Study Guide." August 3, 2017. Accessed September 20, 2018. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/The-Girl-on-the-Train/.

Footnote

Course Hero, "The Girl on the Train Study Guide," August 3, 2017, accessed September 20, 2018, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/The-Girl-on-the-Train/.

The Girl on the Train | Rachel (Chapter 25) | Summary

Share
Share

Summary

On Monday, August 12, 2013, Tom calls Rachel and asks to see her. She dresses up, brushes her hair, and puts on makeup, and together they go to the lake. Tom tells her that Anna saw her outside Scott's house. Rachel explains that she is helping Scott out, but Tom asks her to stay away because Scott could be dangerous. Rachel believes that Tom is not only worried about her but also jealous, and they experience a tender moment.

The next day Rachel dreams she is on the train. In the dream she notices a blue dress abandoned near the tracks that she believes she has seen before. As the train stops at Jason and Jess's house for an unusually long time, she watches Jason and Jess standing on the terrace. Jason begins choking Jess, and Rachel wakes just before he smashes her head on the wall.

During her third visit Rachel asks Kamal if there is a way to recover lost memories. He suggests using sensory experiences, such as smell or sound or even feelings, to recall lost memories. Rachel wants to try recovering her memories of a specific incident. According to Tom Rachel once angrily attacked him with a golf club, smashing the drywall in their living room in the process. As usual she was too drunk to remember any of the details, but she also cannot connect the feeling she had with the incident he described because what she felt was not anger, but fear.

On her way home from the session Rachel deliberately goes past the underpass, trying to regain her memories by reconnecting with sensory experience. She remembers seeing Anna wearing a blue dress and walking away from her as Tom's car pulls up next to her and she gets in. She knows that this cannot be right because Anna was at home that night with the baby while Tom was out looking for her.

Analysis

In the beginning of this chapter it becomes clear that Rachel thinks of Anna much the same way Anna thinks of her: as a rival. Rachel is still in love with Tom. His physical touch and gentle demeanor quickly rekindle her hope that they'll get back together. However, as Anna's perspective has shown, Tom is not meeting her to reconcile, but instead to placate Anna, who wants Rachel out of her life. Tom is simply using his physical and emotional power over Rachel to manipulate her. Although the reader has been on his side thus far, trusting him as much as his wives did and do, his double play here suggests that he may not be honest after all, keeping his ulterior motives close to his chest.

In a stunning reversal of an earlier scene, in which she saw Jason stand behind Jess massaging her shoulders as she rode by, Rachel's dream now shows Jason killing Jess, reiterating that her earlier version of their lives was but a fantasy. The details that have been discovered since have shattered her impression of romantic bliss between Megan and Scott. In her dream, however, she reverts to their imaginary names, signaling that even armed with more details, Rachel cannot quite penetrate the true history of their lives.

Rachel knows that to solve the puzzle and to get to the truth, she needs to recover her memories. While her interest seems focused on the memories pertaining to Megan's disappearance, it quickly becomes clear that she also wants to recover the memories related to her own life. Kamal's explanation that memories can be recovered with the help of sensory experience such as smell, sound, touch, or even feelings, makes her realize that many of her feelings do not match with the details Tom supplies. However, her low self-esteem does not allow her to believe that her feelings could be more trustworthy than Tom's version of events. Instead, she chastises herself, allowing a voice of self-loathing to constantly run in her head.

The novel suggests that memories create an individual's sense of self—Rachel thinks of herself as an angry and violent drunk because of the incidents Tom has helped her remember. Yet at the same time, the individual's sense of self influences individual memories—Megan does not trust her own feelings because her self-loathing and perceived dependence on Scott won't allow her to question him.

At the same time, Rachel's strong sense of dread and fear compels her to return to the underpass repeatedly because her flashes of memory do not quite coincide with Tom's version of things. The reader slowly realizes that there is more to Tom than Anna's image of the perfect family and Rachel's notion of the gentle and supportive ex-husband suggest.

Cite This Study Guide

information icon Have study documents to share about The Girl on the Train? Upload them to earn free Course Hero access!