Study Guide

The Girl on the Train Guilt and Blame

By Paula Hawkins

Guilt and Blame

Guilt is supposed to keep you from doing things you'll regret. And if not that, perhaps it will inspire you to do something to right the wrong. Or, if you're the girl on the train, you'll just drink and drink and drink to forget how guilty you feel, then end up doing something that makes you feel more guilty, which inspires you to drink more, and so on and so forth. At that point, the only person you have to blame is yourself. Or this is the case when it comes to Rachel in The Girl on the Train, anyway.

Questions About Guilt and Blame

  1. Why does Rachel believe she needs to feel guiltier about what she does during her blackouts? Does she ever reach an appropriate level of guilt?
  2. What do each of our three point of view characters feel guilty for, if anything, and how does the guilt affect each woman's actions?
  3. Does guilt ever stop any of the characters from doing something they'd regret? If yes, who and what? If not, why?

Chew on This


Tom convinces Rachel to blame herself for many terrible things she didn't do. Her guilt lowers her self-esteem, and makes it easier for Tom to manipulate her.

Even though Tom behaves the worst out of all the book's characters, he never feels guilty because he is a sociopath—and because he doesn't feel guilt, he continues to harm people.