’Something happened, something bad’: Blackouts, uncertainties and event construal in The Girl on the Train

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This article examines the representation of mind style in Paula Hawkins’ (2015) best-selling novel The Girl on the Train. It examines how Hawkins presents the fictional mind of Rachel, a character who is affected by anterograde amnesia as a result of alcoholic blackouts. Rachel’s narrative voice drives the novel and its retelling of events is characterised by her inability to recall important information related to the night that a young woman disappeared and was murdered.

This article specifically draws on the Cognitive Grammar notion of construal to explore the presentation of Rachel’s mind style and its affordances and limitations. In doing so, it builds on developing scholarship that has identified the potential for Cognitive Grammar to provide a richly nuanced account of the representation of a fictional mind. The analysis specifically examines two ways in which event construal is presented: nominal grounding strategies and reference point relationships. For the latter, the article also develops emerging work that has sought to make a connection between Cognitive Grammar and Text World Theory in terms of how mental representations are projected by the text.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)38-51
JournalLanguage and Literature
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 9 Feb 2018

Bibliographical note

Copyright: Sage Publishing.


  • Cognitive Grammar, Mind style, The Girl on the Train, Construal, Text World Theory, Cognitive Stylistics


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