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Free Study Guide for The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin

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CHAPTER 4: The Corpse Found


As Doug Hoo watches and keeps time, Turtle in her witch costume stepS into the old Westing House determined to not be scared. At two dollars a minute, twenty-five minutes would get her a subscription to The Wall Street Journal. After eleven minutes, according to Doug's stopwatch, Turtle screams and runs out of the house.

Turtle has seen the corpse, not rotting on an Oriental rug, but tucked into a four-poster bed. She heard a whisper of "Pur-ple" or "Tur-tle" calling her to the master bedroom on the second floor. Very early the next day, Turtle sees in the newspaper that Sam Westing was found dead. The newspaper account clears up some questions of Turtle's time in the house: Westing's love of games explains the game room where she picked up a billiard cue to protect herself, while Sam Westing's elaborate Fourth of July fireworks displays explains the boxes marked Danger - explosives in the ground-floor storeroom. However, there was no explanation of how the body was found, nor of the envelope at the bedside with the message If I am found dead in bed, nor mention of any prowlers or witches or tracks left by Doug or Turtle. She then goes to collect her twenty-four dollars from Doug, Theo, Otis, and Sandy.

At noon Otis Amber delivers sixteen letters from attorney E.J. Plum, naming the recipients as beneficiaries of Samuel W. Westing's estate and asking them to attend the reading of the will at 4 PM the next day. All are required to fill in their position as well as signature; some are stunned at the news that they were heirs. Among those who received a letter is Otis himself.


Several pieces of the puzzle are provided but again only become obvious with a second reading of the novel: the whisper was likely intended to catch Turtle's attention and may indeed have been her name being called, as Sam Westing knows her well in his role as Sandy McSouthers. The newspaper's omission of certain facts did not come from ignorance but Westing's purposeful manipulation of the media. The fireworks Turtle encounters are what Angela uses for her bombs, as well as what Sam Westing uses to finally burn the Westing house down.

CHAPTER 5: Sixteen Heirs


With the exception of father Jake, the Wexler family arrives at the Westing house for the reading of the will. Grace believes herself the rightful heir, based on family gossip about a rich uncle Sam. They are greeted at the door by Crow, the Sunset Towers cleaning woman. The lawyer E.J. Plum greets them in the library and asks them to take a seat. Turtle sees an open coffin in a corner with the dead man: in his hands are his mother's silver cross, which Turtle dropped the night before and Grace had noticed to be missing. Grace greets Doctor Denton Deere, Angela's fiancé, surprised at his presence. Next arrive Mrs. Baumbach, then Otis Amber, Doug Hoo, Mr. Hoo, and Sandy McSouthers. Grace Wexler thinks they are all former employees being rewarded.

When the Theodorakis brothers arrive, she asks where the parents are; Theo explains that they weren't invited. Judge Ford arrives next and Grace greets her cordially. Mr. Hoo says his wife is not coming, while Grace says her husband was called away on an emergency operation - which Turtle tells Flora Baumbach is really a football game. E.J. Plum states that two people are left to arrive. Crow soon enters and sits next to Amber, then finally Sydelle Pulaski with her brightly painted crutches. Denton Deere notices that Sydelle favors one leg and then the other and diagnoses this to Angela in an attempt to impress her. Sydelle takes out her notebook and prepares to take notes.


Grace Wexler is correct in her assumption of being related to Sam Westing, though the events in this chapter --as well as her obvious desire for social prominence, which ironically has her give up the name Windkloppel for Wexler (and in doing so, make her connection to Sam Westing less evident) - leads readers away from that truth.

The decision of Jake Wexler and Madame Sun Lin Hoo to not attend the reading of the will shows their lack of interest in these affairs (one from choice, one from not being informed), as well as illustrating how disconnected these two people are from the rest of their respective families. Further, Jake's secret life as a bookie is hinted at by Turtle. Denton's quick diagnoses of all the people he sees with an ailment becomes a source of unexpected comedy, both at the people he describes as well as at his own pomposity.

The choice of an attorney named Plum may be an homage to the board game clue, which has a character named Professor Plum. Sydelle's note-taking becomes an important part of the game as it progresses.


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