The Girl on the Train

The Girl on the Train Literary Elements


Romance, Thriller

Setting and Context

London, England and its surroundings between May 2012 and August 2013

Narrator and Point of View

The story is told by three narrators: Rachel, Megan, and (more rarely) Anna. In each case, they write in first-person narration.

Tone and Mood

Dark, Mysterious

Protagonist and Antagonist

Protagonists: Rachel, Megan, and to an extent, Anna. Antagonist: Tom and to an extent, Scott

Major Conflict

Megan Hipwell has disappeared and turns up dead a few days later. Rachel Watson wants to establish why Megan died and whether she played any role in the death, while coping with her divorce and drinking problem.


Rachel Watson realizes that Tom murdered Megan and he attacks her when she confronts him about it. She is able to kill him with a bottle opener.


The story depends heavily on foreshadowing, as it is a mystery told from many perspectives and with jumps backward and forward in time.


Hawkins uses understatement to ease the reader into Rachel's situation, slowly doling out information about her divorce, drinking problem, and unemployment.


Rachel makes an allusion to "Ted Hughes, moving Assia Weville into the home he'd shared with Plath," comparing this dynamic to Tom moving Anna into the house they had shared together.


Hawkins makes ample use of imagery, especially focusing on descriptions of Rachel's mental states when drunk, sober, and hungover.





Metonymy and Synecdoche



Hawkins uses personification to describe emotions like blackout and failure, especially in Rachel's life, to give the reader a sense of Rachel's perceived lack of control.