The Westing Game
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|Publisher||E. P. Dutton|
|Pages||182 or 217 pp.|
|LC Class||PZ7.R1817 We 2003|
The Westing Game is a mystery novel written by Ellen Raskin and published by Dutton in 1978. It won the Newbery Medal recognizing the year's most distinguished contribution to American children's literature. The story features the adventures of Sam Westing's sixteen heirs after they receive his challenge to figure out the secret of his death.
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Sixteen heirs who are mysteriously chosen to live in the Sunset Towers apartment building on the shore of Lake Michigan, come together to hear the will of the self-made millionaire, Samuel W. Westing. The will takes the form of a puzzle, dividing the sixteen heirs into eight pairs, giving each pair a different set of clues which consist of almost all of the lyrics from "America the Beautiful", and challenging them to solve the mystery of who murdered Sam Westing. As an incentive, each pair is given $10,000 to play the game. Whoever solves the mystery will inherit Sam Westing's 200 million dollar fortune, and his company, Westing Paper Products. Only one pair can win.
- Judge J.J Ford is a judge and is partners with Sandy McSouthers. Used to investigating crimes, her goal in the game is to find the past of every heir. She is known for distrusting everyone. She is grim and does not like partnering up because she is used to working alone.
- Jake Wexler is a podiatrist. He also has a second occupation as a bookie. He loves Grace, but he also knows that she might never be happy with their life or financial situation. He is also 44 years old. He is married to Grace Wexler and is a father to Angela Wexler and "Turtle" Wexler.
- Flora Baumbach is a shy 60-year-old dressmaker and a little bit of a role model to her partner, Turtle Wexler. She is told by Turtle that Turtle's real name is Alice. Her daughter, Rosalie, had Down Syndrome (though is described in the book as "a Mongoloid") and died of pneumonia. She says that Angela reminds her of Violet Westing. Her husband disappeared, and it is unknown whether he died or if there was a divorce. Flora is a kind old woman to everyone.
- Tabitha-Ruth "Alice" 'Turtle' Wexler is a very intelligent 13-year-old girl, whose main feature is her single, long, dark braid. She is also known for kicking anyone in the shins if they try to pull or touch her braid. As a result of her clues from the Westing Game, she begins to play the stock market. Her real name is Tabitha-Ruth Wexler, but tells Flora that her real name is Alice. Sandy McSouthers is one of her best friends.
- Dr. Denton Deere is a young medical intern, age 25. He is engaged to Angela and is very arrogant. He is extremely proud of the medical industry, and he has an obsession with giving diagnoses to almost everyone in the story. He later becomes a neurologist.
- Grace Wexler is the mother of Angela and Turtle and is described as a high and mighty socialite. She is fiercely obsessed with her own image and the image of Angela. She does not act like a mother to Turtle. She claims throughout the game to be Mr. Westing's niece (which is indeed true). She purports her name as Grace Windsor Wexler, although it actually is Gracie Windkloppel Wexler. Grace wants to be an interior designer.
- James Shin Hoo is a middle-aged Chinese man, owner of Shin Hoo's restaurant and former entrepreneur. He claims Mr. Westing stole his patent for the disposable diaper and appears bitter and moody for this reason. He suffers from ulcers, and he can often be seen yelling at his son, Doug, to study.
- Berthe Erica Crow is a militantly religious woman who is 57 years old, tight and introverted. She works as a cleaning woman for Sunset Towers and plays a major role in Westing's plot.
- Otis Amber is a 62-year-old delivery boy, who, on occasion appears in the book as a different person.
- Angela Wexler is Turtle's 20-year-old sister. She is described as being fair, blond, and very pretty. She is considered the 'perfect' daughter, often getting more attention than Turtle. However, people only acknowledge her as an attractive object about to be married to Dr. Denton Deere instead of an intelligent human being. Only Turtle, Sydelle Pulaski and Judge Ford know that she is the bomber in the story (which causes Turtle to take the blame for something that she never did to protect Angela); ironically, she is the only one who sustained a serious injury (leaving a scar on her face). She is engaged to a young doctor-to-be, Denton Deere in the beginning of the story. Angela returns to medical school and reconnects with Deere years later. They eventually have one daughter together, Alice.
- Alexander "Sandy" McSouthers is the Sunset Towers' doorman. He previously worked at Westing Paper Products Corporation and claims to have been fired by Sam Westing himself for attempting to organize the workers. McSouthers is notable for his knowledge of Sunset Towers' gossip. He is later revealed to be Samuel Westing, as well as Barney Northrup and Julian R. Eastman.
- Sydelle Pulaski is a mysterious character, with not much known about her. She seems to have an affinity for Chris Theodorakis.
- Theo Theodorakis is Chris Theodorakis' brother. He is a high school student and is friends with Doug Hoo.
The epilogue of the story is told in the book's last three chapters, which depicts the heirs growing older and more successful, many of them changing their lives as a result of the game.
- Crow and Otis Amber fall in love and are married in Angela and Deere's place, both leaving their jobs at Sunset Towers to work at Crow's soup kitchen, which many of the heirs leave donations to. Both die within a week of one another two years before Sandy does.
- Flora Baumbach leaves the dressmaking business a few years after the game's conclusion, becoming Turtle's close friend and later Alice's nanny.
- Denton Deere and Angela Wexler both question their life choices and ultimately separate, with Denton becoming a neurologist due to his success in treating Chris, and Angela returning to medical school and becoming a surgeon. Five years after the game's conclusion, the two are reunited, marry, and have a daughter named Alice.
- Judge Ford agrees to finance Chris' education in homage to her mentor, Sam Westing. She is elected to the US Court of Appeals and later the Supreme Court.
- Sun Lin Hoo ultimately never leaves her husband and adopts the nickname "Sunny." She becomes fluent in English, and becoming James' secretary in his new company. After he dies she finally takes her trip to China, but returns to take up the family business.
- James Hoo leaves the restaurant business and gives "Hoo's on First" to Grace. He patents his shoe-sole idea and becomes a multimillionaire, and moves out of Sunset Towers with his family. He dies briefly before the story concludes, being succeeded in the company by his wife.
- Doug Hoo wins his first Olympic gold medal and set a new record for the 1500 meter run shortly after the game ends, and goes on to win two more. Retiring from athletics, he becomes a popular sports announcer.
- Chris Theodorakis ultimately conquers his muscle disease and stutter thanks to Denton's extensive work with him, though he never overcomes being wheelchair-bound. Having his college education financed by Judge Ford, he meets a girl named Shirley during his first year. The two later marry and become professors at the local university, and Chris discovers and names a new breed of parrot during a safari in Central America.
- Sydelle Pulaski returns to her old job at Schultz' Sausages, discovering that Mr. Schultz has a crush on her and later marrying him. The pair move to Hawaii, though Sydelle stays in touch with Angela. She gives up using crutches to get attention but requires the use of them for a proper purpose several times over the ending's course.
- Jake Wexler becomes unsatisfied with his job as a podiatrist, quitting and being recommended to a political position by Judge Ford. He becomes the Chairman of the State Gambling Commission and then the Wisconsin State Crime Commissioner, though the jobs gave him little time to spend with his wife.
- Grace Wexler takes up James' restaurant, renaming it "Hoo's on First" and giving it a theme of local sports stars, getting her rave reviews. The success of "Hoo's on First" ultimately results in a chain of ten such restaurants, the latest of which allows her to work close to her husband in Madison, though Turtle is convinced it is a financial failure.
- Theo Thedorakis attends a literary college, becoming an assistant to a reporter (Who incidentally writes the article on Doug's first gold medal) and later becoming a novelist. His first novel does not sell well, but at the book's end he has almost finished his second book. Theo marries Turtle, though they agree not to have children lest they inherit Chris' disease. Theo and Chris' parents move to Florida after retiring from their coffee shop business.
- Tabitha-Ruth "Turtle" Wexler, having discovered Sam Westing's secret life and solved the game, is dedicated to being his successor and ultimately the president of Westing Paper Products. She takes on the nickname of T.R., attends college, being only 18 in her second year of college, and makes over $5,000,000 in the stock market. Turtle marries Theo and begins tutoring Angela's daughter Alice to play chess.
- Alexander 'Sandy' McSouthers is revealed to be Samuel Westing, a.k.a. Barney Northrup, a.k.a. Julien Eastman and becomes Turtle Wexler's mentor, pays for her expensive education, and plays chess with her every Saturday, although she claims she is 'at the library'. He reveals that he has always known that Angela was the bomber. He dies on the Fourth of July.
- The Westing Game manuscript online at UW Madison
- The Westing Game at the Internet Movie Database
- The Game learning guide, analysis, quotes, & teacher resources
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