Study Guide

Cathy in The Girl on the Train

By Paula Hawkins

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Cathy is Rachel's friend from college. She's a "nice person" (1.25), who cleans early on Saturday morning. Rachel seems a little petty at first when she describes Cathy as a person who needs others to acknowledge her niceness—Cathy actually is a genuinely nice person. Sure, she gets mad that Rachel leaves her puke-covered clothes at the bottom of the stairs and threatens to evict her, but who wouldn't? Rachel is far from a dream roommate. Plus Cathy still hugs Rachel even after finding out that she's lied about losing her job, and then Cathy even gets her a job interview.

In a book full of petty, vindictive women (well, mostly Anna), it's nice to have one who acts like a nice, normal person. Plus she gives us one of the book's most compelling images: "She's standing in the kitchen, aggressively drinking a glass of water" (15.129). How does one drink a glass of water aggressively? What does that look like? Does she need a towel after? So many questions.

The Demon Seed

So Cathy may be nice, but her boyfriend, Damien, is pretty awful. Not quite the demon seed, but Rachel sometimes overhears him say horrible (if bluntly honest) things about her. Like when Cathy asks him to set Rachel up with a friend, he says, "I'm not sure I know anyone that desperate" (1.34). Ouch—but also pretty true given where Rachel is in her life at this point.

Cathy in The Girl on the Train Study Group

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