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


Course Hero. "The Girl on the Train Study Guide." Course Hero. 3 Aug. 2017. Web. 20 Nov. 2018. <>.

In text

(Course Hero)



Course Hero. (2017, August 3). The Girl on the Train Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved November 20, 2018, from

In text

(Course Hero, 2017)



Course Hero. "The Girl on the Train Study Guide." August 3, 2017. Accessed November 20, 2018.


Course Hero, "The Girl on the Train Study Guide," August 3, 2017, accessed November 20, 2018,

The Girl on the Train | Rachel (Chapter 34) | Summary



On Sunday, August 18, 2013, Anna runs into the house when she sees Tom at the kitchen window, and Rachel follows. Rachel tells Tom that she saw Megan get into his car that Saturday night, but he denies it, claiming that she never remembers anything right when she is drunk. Anna confronts him about the phone and asks him not to lie to her. He takes the baby from Anna and confesses that he had an affair but claims he couldn't help it because Rachel and Anna were so difficult to deal with. Rachel realizes that what bothers Anna is not that he had an affair and may have killed somebody, but that he thinks she is like Rachel. Rachel asks Anna to distract him so she can call the police. Rachel steps outside, but before she can place the call, Tom kicks her to the ground and pulls her back inside. Anna fixes lunch for the baby and tea for the adults.


In a tremendously suspenseful scene, Tom confesses to the affair. It is never quite clear whether Rachel is able to connect with Anna and form an alliance against Tom, as Anna seems set on preserving her family. Similarly, Tom tries to convince Anna that while he had an affair with Megan, he did not kill her. Yet he goes too far when—like Anna, who never accepted any responsibility for breaking up Tom and Rachel's marriage—Tom blames Rachel and even Anna for his seeking solace with another woman. The comparison to Rachel pushes Anna over the edge. Despite the fact that, like Rachel, she has been betrayed by Tom, she cannot bear to be compared to a woman she considers beneath her. It is not moral outrage that turns her against her husband, but female rivalry. She is angry with Tom for insulting her. In their utter selfishness and disregard for others, Tom and Anna make a rather good match.

While Anna and Tom seem rather unpredictable and certifiably mad in their attempts to deny the truth and go on as if nothing had happened—Anna fixes lunch and tea in a scene of absurd domestic bliss—Rachel is the epitome of reason. Her motivation is to get out of the situation alive. Using Anna's maternal instincts, her willingness to fiercely protect her offspring, Rachel forms a brief alliance with her when Tom takes the baby. And yet, in another suspenseful twist, Tom thwarts Rachel's phone call and takes control of the situation, providing a cliffhanger that allows space for the final disclosure of Megan's last moments.

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!