Study Guide

The Girl on the Train Guilt and Blame

By Paula Hawkins

Advertisement - Guide continues below

Guilt and Blame

I am not the girl I used to be. I am no longer desirable, I'm off-putting in some way. […] It's as if people can see the damage written all over me, can see it in my face, the way I hold myself, the way I move. (1.33)

Because Rachel feels guilty for everything she's done (or thinks she's done) she believes that everyone else can read it on her, as if she has "guilty drunk" tattooed on her forehead. Acting this way probably does make people look at her differently, which only reinforces the terrible way she thinks of herself.

And I'll be telling myself all day, it's not the worst thing, is it? It's not the worst thing I've ever done. (1.41)

What follows this sentence are a few horrible situations, written as though they're hypothetical, but we learn throughout the book that all of them are terrible things Rachel actually did, and she still feels guilty about them. She's guilty because she let her drunk personality take over and do things she wouldn't normally do.

Maybe if I'd done all that, I wouldn't have ended up here, not knowing what to do next. (2.30)

Megan planned to travel the world with her brother but she never did, and then her brother died. She's always felt guilty about that, calling him "the big hole in [her] life" (2.31).

I wish I knew what I had to be sorry for. (3.83)

It's hard to feel guilty when you don't even know what you did. So Rachel compensates by just feeling terrible about everything.

I could never write down the things I actually feel or think or do. (4.6)

Megan feels guilty about her past actions (like accidentally killing her baby—oops) and would only be made to feel worse by her snooping, jealous husband if she wrote about her past. But not having an outlet just makes things worse for her.

It's ridiculous, when I think about it. How did I find myself here? […] I wonder at what point I could have halted it. Where did I take the wrong turn? Not when I met Tom… (5.3)

Stop right there, Rachel. Tom pretty much <em>is </em>the start of most of her guilt and misery, as we'll find out later. She should blame him for almost everything.

I must have committed some terrible act and blacked it out. (7.32)

Rachel fears she may have done something to Megan—something she doesn't remember—because Tom conditioned her to feel this way. Tom would take advantage of Rachel's blackouts, and even though he was the one abusing her, he would convince her that she abused him, making her feel guilty and scared of her blackouts for the wrong reasons.

I never learn. I wake with a crushing sensation of wrongness, of shame, and I know immediately that I've done something stupid. (9.35)

This is a terrible feeling, but Rachel learns that she can trust her feelings. These shameful feeling make her feel guilty, and rightfully so. But when she realizes that sometimes she feels fear instead of guilt, she uses that to piece together her fragmented memories.

"It's my fault, because I'm an unreliable witness." (15.84)

Tom actually makes a good point here (for once), telling Rachel, "I'm sure it's not just about you" (15.85). But he's also kind of wrong. If Rachel remembered Tom getting into the car with Megan, which she doesn't recall until the very end, she could have told the police and none of this would have happened.

"The last thing I ever said to her, the last words she ever read, were Go to hell you lying b****." (19.44)

Yikes. Scott definitely feels badly about this because Megan is dead and there's nothing he can do can to go back and change his final words to his wife.

The Girl on the Train Guilt and Blame Study Group

Ask questions, get answers, and discuss with others.

Tired of ads?

Join today and never see them again.

This is a premium product

Please Wait...