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

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Abstract

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.

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  • nothing is reliable and nobody is trustworthy’ Blackouts, uncertainties and event construal in The Girl on the Train

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Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)38-51
JournalLanguage and Literature
Volume27
Issue number1
Early online date9 Feb 2018
DOIs
StateE-pub ahead of print - 9 Feb 2018

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Copyright: Sage Publishing.

    Keywords

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

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