Family Dynamics in “Strangers on a Train”

Throughout Hitchcock’s movies a twisted sense of family is widely expressed and criticized. In Shadow of a Doubt the “average American family” presents with signs of misplaced trust, manipulation, and the strong potential for incest. Strangers on a Train specifically shows a misguided mother-son dynamic that is favored by Hitchcock. Oblivious to the seriousness of Bruno’s obsession with murder, Bruno’s mother is blind to Bruno’s obvious psychopathic mindset. She remains the only character in Strangers on a Train that supports Bruno, even Bruno’s father wants him sent away. Even when she is confronted by Ann, Bruno’s mother refuses to believe that Bruno could in any way be involved with murder, despite his constant fixation with it. She doesn’t even want to entertain the idea that Bruno could be anything more than her innocent son. Many critics believe that the relationship between Bruno and his mother is a foreshadowing of the relationship between Norman and his mother in Psycho, “Bruno, with his close relationship with a crazy mother, is an obvious forerunner of Norman Bates.” Regardless of the movie, twisted family dynamics are a given in Hitchcock creations.


Wood, Robin. “Strangers on a Train.” In A Hitchcock Reader, 172-181. 2nd ed. Wiley-Blackwell, 2009.

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