Early in The Girl on the Train, before Rachel or the reader has met Scott and Megan, Rachel vividly imagines the lives of the people she sees from the train. She has named these people Jess and Jason and paints elaborate images of their lives - Jason working as a doctor overseas, Jess as a fashion designer or a painter, canvasses drying upstairs in the house. The detail with which Hawkins writes these passages demonstrates how much Rachel retreats from reality into this fantasy of perfect lives.
Throughout The Girl on the Train, Rachel narrates the dreams she has had early in the morning - dreams she often wakes from in a panic due to their vividness and real-life stakes. These dreams, in which Rachel suffocates, tries to help Jess and Jason while being trapped on the train, and experiences everyone in her life turning against her, parallel Rachel's life with the addition of intense and figurative imagery that leave the reader wondering what truths can be taken away.
Tom and Rachel's Fight
In comparison to the fight scene between Megan and Tom, which spans a mere page at best, the physical fight between Tom and Rachel stretches across multiple chapters and points of view. This detailed and vivid depiction of emotional and physical struggle builds to a climax and catharsis for the reader who has witnessed Rachel grapple with her feelings for Tom after their divorce.
Depictions of Drunkenness
Hawkins uses shifts in narration and description to clue readers in to Rachel's mental state when sober, drunk, and in between. This imagery is crucial to understanding the story, as it allows readers to decide how much they can trust Rachel's perceptions of a situation. In general, events and imagery seem to intensify and blur together as Rachel becomes more inebriated.
The Girl on the Train Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for The Girl on the Train is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.