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“Hollowness: that I understand. I’m starting to believe that there isn’t anything you can do to fix it. That’s what I’ve taken from the therapy sessions: the holes in your life are permanent. You have to grow around them, like tree roots around concrete; you mold yourself through the gaps” (Hawkins, 94). ‘The Girl on the Train’ is a thriller written by Paula Hawkins and takes on strong themes like abuse. This along with plot changes and character development change the way the novel is viewed from the film. The novel is intricately written to invoke the strong feeling of each scene and to help give the audience a strong attachment to each character like giving them backstories about their life prior to the murder. The novel invokes just these feelings and allows the audience to relate to each character, conveying that the novel is more developed and thorough compared to the film. There are three main points that play into the novel being more developed and thorough than the film, these are themes, character development, and plot changes.

Themes help to set the context in which the story takes place. Themes in the novel play a big role in understanding why characters do what they do. These themes help to give different perspectives on life and broaden the themes used. One prevalent theme that both the film and novel use are gender role of women in relationships and society. In the novel, the three women are seen as dependent on a man, their looks, and their roles as mothers. When Rachel discovers that she cannot conceive a child which in turn begins to destroy her womanhood and leads to her starting to drink heavily. She becomes ‘frumpy’ and loses the beauty she once had. This intimately leads to her divorce from her ex-husband Tom. “Let’s be honest: women are still only really valued for two things — their looks and their role as mothers. I’m not beautiful, and I can’t have kids, so what does that make me? Worthless” (Hawkins, 79). This quotation communicates that as a woman their job is to be able to conceive children and make a family for themselves because without a child women are worthless and are seen as a burden to society. In the film, there is not much but one scene that takes on this theme. In this scene, Rachel is talking to Dr. Kamal Abdic about her past and why she drinks so heavily but does not go into extensive detail other than her inability to get pregnant. This cuts off the reader from discovering her true feelings about motherhood and how deeply infertility has affected her life.

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The emotional connection that each character gains helps to show how detailed each character’s backstory is and shows that the novel is more detailed than the film because the experiences and trauma relate to each other to help show their connection. In the novel, the character development is simple yet very enticing. Each character has their own story, but this helps the reader to relate more to them and sympathize with them in their current situation. An instance of this is Scott and Rachel’s relationship that is built in the novel. As Rachel tries to help Scott cope with the death of his wife and try to find the murderer, they become very close in a matter of a couple of weeks. So close in fact that in the days leading up to the discovery of the murder Megan Rachel and Scott have sexual intercourse. This scene in the film is cut out along with the development of most of Scott’s character. In the novel, he is shown to be a tough guy who at times can be abusive and possessive towards his wife Megan, and aggressive towards Rachel after finding she had lied to him. “…He dragging me, spitting and cursing. He’s taking me upstairs and I’m trying to resist, but he’s so strong, I can’t. I’m crying” (Hawkins, 249). This quotation shows that Scott was not afraid to get physical with anyone. But in the film, the character Scott is seen to be softer and kinder to Rachel. In the novel, Scott drags Rachel into a room while she is trying to resist, but in the film, he just has a verbal confrontation with Rachel. Tom, in addition to this, is a character that is downplayed in the film. He is one of the main characters that help to push the storyline along seeing as that at one point in time he was together with the three women. In the novel, Tom emotionally abuses Rachel to drink and tells her lies about what happened the night before. He leads her to believe that she is the one that becomes abusive, but in the end, he is actually the one that becomes very abusive to her. “You’re like one of those dogs, the unwanted ones that have been mistreated all their lives. You can kick them and kick them, but they’ll still come back to you, cringing and wagging their tails. Begging. Hoping that this time it’ll be different, that this time they’ll do something right and you’ll love them. You’re just like that, aren’t you, Rach? You’re a dog” (Hawkins, 316). This quotation shows that Tom thinks about no one but himself and would constantly psychologically abuse Rachel to make sure that she would stay underneath him so that Tom would always feel powerful and in control of the situation. In the film, the audience does not see this side of Tom until the end, and events like the Tom taking Rachel out to their old makeup spot and lying to Rachel about he feels about her to keep her around are one of the many things that happen, but in the film, that aspect is lost because the audience does not get to see more of his true colors.

Point of view in this novel helps to show what each character is thinking and to get the reader to sympathize with where the character is coming from. Throughout the novel, the points of view of Rachel, Anna, Megan, and Tom are shown to help the reader get inside the characters’ heads and show their thought process. Every chapter switches the point of view to see how to character is reacting from a first-person view instead of a third-person. This makes the book way more intriguing because as a reader you never have to question what the other character was thinking, but in the film, in the beginning, you start to see the points of view of Rachel, Anna, and Megan, but soon as the movie goes along, Rachel’s point of view is one of the only points of views shown and takes away from the authenticity of the novel and dismisses the feelings and thoughts that a character would have if their side had been shown.

To sum up all that said, the novel is exceptionally more detailed and thorough compared to the film primarily due to more developed themes, more detailed character development, and plot twists.

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