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Free Study Guide for The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin

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SHORT SUMMARY (Synopsis) (continued)

There are other forces at work as well, outside the realm of the game, as criminal elements besides a possible murderer also reside in the building. There is a thief in the building, stealing valuables from various tenants; this turns out to be Madame Hoo, who's trying to get enough money to return to China. There is a bookmaker among the tenants, placing illegal bets in the manner of all bookies; this turns out to be Jake Wexler. Judge Ford and Sandy also find out that Sydelle Pulaski was a mistake in the Westing game: the tenant was supposed to be Sybil Pulaski, a childhood friend of Berthe Erica Crow.

Most alarming of all, a bomber strikes three times: first at the Theodorakis coffee shop, then at Shin Hoo's Restaurant, then at Angela Wexler's wedding shower party. While no one is injured at the coffee shop, Sydelle Pulaski hurts her ankle during the second incident - a huge irony, as she had already been using crutches to gain attention for a feigned injury - and Angela Wexler is hurt with the third bomb, tilting the box with the fireworks towards her face when sister Turtle tried to look inside. Already partners in the Westing game, Angela and Sydelle also end up sharing a hospital room. Turtle figures out Angela is the bomber, unhappy as she is about always trying to please mother Grace and coerced to marry a doctor. To protect her sister, Turtle sets off a fourth bomb in the elevator of Sunset Towers and makes sure she gets caught and branded as the one responsible for all the bombs.

Two weeks after the first reading of the will, the heirs are gathered again at the Westing house to give their answer on which heir took Sam Westing's life. The pairs provide a wide range of answers, starting with Jake Wexler and Sun Lin Hoo's futile "Boom!" and ending with Sydelle Pulaski singing from "America the Beautiful" before stating Otis Amber is her and Angela Wexler's answer. After a short break where Crow fetches refreshments and refills Sandy's liquor flask, it's revealed that none of them have the right answer, and the will further instructs the heirs that they must now work individually. Locked in the library, they have a limited amount of time to come up with the right answer and win the inheritance.

Theo suggests pooling everybody's clues as the will specifies that it's what the heirs don't have that leads to the answer. Sandy McSouthers leads this process, making Judge Ford suspicious: she realizes that Sam Westing's disguise isn't Otis Amber, but her own partner. With all the clue words gathered, they make out the first stanza of "America the Beautiful" with some missing words - those missing words add up to the answer "Berthe Erica Crow". Judge Ford pleads to the others to not turn in Crow on this basis, but as she's about to reveal Sandy's secret identity of Sam Westing, the doorman collapses. As Doctors Wexler and Deere try to comfort the dying man, E.J. Plum rushes back into the room with a police sheriff and Doctor Sikes, who pronounces the man dead. Plum reminds the heirs of the deadline to giving the right answer and winning the Westing inheritance. No one speaks until a minute is left, when Crow names herself as the answer and instructs that her expected inheritance be split between the soup kitchen and Angela Wexler.

Berthe Erica Crow is taken away by the police, Sandy McSouthers is pronounced dead, Plum resigns as the executor of the Westing estate, and the remaining fourteen heirs return to Judge Ford's apartment. There, the various heirs compare information about Sandy as it becomes apparent to Judge Ford and Turtle Wexler that he was actually Sam Westing. Turtle asks Judge Ford to hold a mock trial, and the heirs agree to this. During the trial, Otis Amber reveals that he was hired twenty years earlier to watch over Berthe Erica Crow, who is Sam's ex-wife: she had gone crazy after her and Sam's daughter committed suicide, becoming an alcoholic before finding religion. Further, Madame Hoo returns the things she had stolen from the other heirs, who choose not to condemn her actions. With Otis and the testimony of others, Turtle proves that Crow did not kill Sam Westing, but reveals that she was the former Mrs. Westing and Sam was disguised as doorman Sandy McSouthers, secretly guiding the heirs before and during the game. Turtle contends that Sam Westing was slowly dying and he simply let his medicine run out, choosing his time to die as he controlled so many other things in life. All throughout the trial, however, Turtle is secretly trying to figure out the true nature of the Westing game --something Judge Ford suspects, as only the two of them realize that Sam Westing was also Barney Northrup. Finally, Turtle comes to the conclusion that the will had specific the heirs to find the "Fourth".

As the trial ends, E.J. Plum and Berthe Erica Crow arrive. There was a misunderstanding with Crow as the coroner determined Sandy had died of a heart attack. Further, Plum has the last page of the will, which he hands over to Judge Ford: these final sections thank the heirs, reveals that Sam Westing and Sandy McSouthers were indeed the same person, and gives the heirs equal shares of the deed to Sunset Towers. Finally, it bestows to his former wife three checks for ten thousand dollars for the soup kitchen and closes with a happy birthday wish to Crow as well as wishing everyone a Happy Fourth of July. The heirs consider this odd or insane, then watch as the Westing house bursts into fire in a flurry of fireworks.

The next morning, Turtle Wexler goes to the home of the newly elected chairman of Westing Paper Products, Julian R. Eastman; Doctor Sikes lets her into the mansion and she meets a smiling Eastman, proving her hunch correct. In secret she plays chess with Eastman every Saturday, now the secret heir to the Westing fortune. Many years pass and the lives of all the Westing heirs changes, often for the better. As an adult, Turtle - now known as T.R. - has made a fortune on the stock market and married Theo Theodorakis. She is there when Julian Eastman dies on the Fourth of July many years later - and with him, Sam Windkloppel (his real name), Sam Westing, Barney Northrup, and Sandy McSouthers. As legal counsel and chief stockholder of Westing Paper Products, T.R. Wexler will eventually become the chairman of the company. She also continues the tradition of her uncle Sam by playing chess every Saturday afternoon with her niece, Alice, the daughter of Doctors Angela and Denton Deere.


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