The Girl on the Train | Study Guide

Paula Hawkins

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The Girl on the Train | Rachel (Chapter 5) | Summary



On Monday, July 15, 2013, Rachel receives an eviction notice. On the train, she cries, wondering if she could have stopped her steady decline to becoming a "barren, divorced, soon-to-be-homeless alcoholic." She wanted to have children, but couldn't, which may have been the beginning of the end of her marriage. She notices Jason standing on the terrace, and his physical presence frightens her.

That evening she is at the emergency room because she accidentally stepped in front of a cab when she was thinking about Jess, who she now knows is Megan Hipwell and who has been missing since Saturday. As the emergency room doctor examines her head injury from that Saturday, he remarks that it looks like somebody hit her with something serrated. She briefly remembers ducking to dodge a blow.


Rachel deduces that Jess and Megan are the same person from the address revealed in the article about the missing woman. Megan has been missing since the Saturday of Rachel's blackout period. While Rachel questions the specifics of her memory in which she cowers as somebody strikes her, she cannot shake the feeling that the memory itself is important. This confirms the reader's hunch that the two stories will collide. In fact it seems that they already have.

Although Rachel dismisses the emergency room doctor's concern that she might be a battered wife—after all, she is divorced—the notion that Saturday's mysterious events could have something to do with domestic abuse seems plausible. Rachel's sense of fear upon seeing Jason, who really is Megan's husband Scott, places him at the center of the mystery. Is Rachel afraid because he was the one who struck her? Is he responsible for the disappearance of his wife? Did he find out she was cheating? After all, the reader has heard in Megan's perspective that her husband has been reading her e-mails, which suggests that he doesn't trust her.

Shrouding the events of the night of Megan's disappearance in Rachel's blackout allows the novel to direct suspicion in several different directions. Scott, a physically imposing figure, might have found out about Megan's lover and be involved in whatever happened that night. Rachel's fractured memory of the red-haired man makes him suspicious as well. Her past erratic behaviors when drunk even make Rachel seem suspicious. Armed with clues about Megan's life, the reader cannot wait to turn to Megan's chapter to have her fill in the blanks. The structure of alternating points of view becomes the vehicle for great suspense.

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