What I learned from ‘The Girl on the Train’ novel


I had such vigor reading the book ‘The Girl on the Train’ by Paula Hawkins.  Never had I such determination to finish reading the book as fast as I could amidst my busy schedule.  But I did it! – I finished reading the book in about 12 hours.  It had never happened before.  Never had I been so hooked on a book that I could finish it within such a short time.

I desperately need to watch the movie though I know that the movie will be nothing compared to the actual story.  But nevertheless, I still need to watch it.  I watched the trailer over and over again.


What’s more important to me is what lessons I learn from the story. I can’t help it.  I’m an English Language Arts (ELA) teacher.  And in any ELA lesson, I have to teach my students to analyze the story that they have read – the author’s style, the mood, the tone, the figurative language, symbolism, irony, foreshadowing, and of course the theme or the moral lessons learnt.

In this post, I’m not going to touch on all the aspects of literary analysis listed above.  I want to touch on only 1 aspect – the moral lessons learnt from the story.  This is just my opinion.  Other people may have different opinions of the lessons they have learnt from the story.  It depends on one’s perspectives of the story and story line.

The first thing I learn from this story is that we can never know the real identity of a person just by looking at his/her physical appearance.  In the story, Rachel, the main character observes a married couple for a few times from afar, from the train, and decides for herself that they are the perfect couple, the most loving couple in the world and she longs to be like them.  But the truth is far from real.

As the story develops, she discovers that the man is actually a jealous, and bad-tempered man who controls his wife to the extent that he checks on her whereabouts and even checks the history of her internet activities.  And when he finds out that she has been searching for an old flame of hers, he blew his top.

The woman, on the other hand, is actually an unfaithful and unstable wife who cheats on her husband with not only one man but two men, or maybe more.  She got pregnant with the last man whom she had an affair with, a married man himself, and met her death in his hands when she refused to abort the baby.  It is such a tragic ending for her though one could sympathise with her because she had had a traumatic early life – the loss of her brother in an accident, getting pregnant at the age of 16 or 17 (I can’t remember), accidentally drowning her baby when she fell asleep in the bathtub while holding the baby, being abandoned by her then boyfriend and the Art gallery that she opened closed down due to poor business.  She was bored, disappointed, helpless especially when her husband is constantly out of town on business.

The story also deals a lot with the problems faced by an alcoholic – the fear, the helplessness, the confusion and the trauma caused by such habits.  It surfaces to the readers the psychological, mental and physical problems that crop up due to drinking.  It should open one’s eyes that drinking, does not solve problems and in fact, create more problems for the person and to the people around him/her – family, relatives, friends, society, community.

The third lesson that we can learn from this story is the issue of extra-marital affairs.  This is really a big problem in our society – huge.  It has become so common that people don’t have any guilty feeling any longer. This story portrays the multitude of problems that can surface due to cheating or extra-marital affairs.  It affects everybody and it leads to a whole set of new problems that we could never fathom.  A few minutes of pleasure can cost a lifetime of misery and tribulation.  Despite knowing this, many people are still doing it, causing marriages to collapse, family to break up and children at the mercy of the divorce.  The problem spirals into a vicious cycle of a broken family, society and country.

Well – these are some of the lessons that we can learn from this story.  Hope you enjoy reading my analyses and hope that this book can be a platform for us to reflect upon ourselves and evaluate our own lives, our family and our society.


6 thoughts on “What I learned from ‘The Girl on the Train’ novel”

      1. You are welcome. I have not read the book, but saw part of the movie in a plane, and didn’t like it. Movies are not really what the books portray, and more often disappointing.

        Liked by 1 person

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