Free Study Guide for The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin

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CHAPTER 8: The Paired Heirs


The snow that started the night of the will reading becomes a blizzard. The tenants of Sunset Towers are stuck in the building with no telephone or electricity. Turtle goes from apartment to apartment selling candles she made during summer camp, striped to mark time. Jake Wexler is upset over the lost five thousand dollars; no one told Madame Hoo about the game yet. Denton Deere is at the hospital, Sandy at home, and no one knew where Otis Amber or Crow are. Sydelle Pulaski has been invited to visit seven tenants, all wanting to see her copy of the will.

Chris Theodorakis has not invited Sydelle but she visits Chris anyway. Sydelle is condescending to him, which makes Angela uncomfortable - but Angela herself is initially unable to talk to the boy at all. Chris knows Sydelle limps but that she's faking it, so he isn't worried by her. Chris asks about grains and Angela names several kinds, including oats. Chris grows excited at this as his clues of FOR PLAIN GRAIN SHED indicate Otis Amber and Judge Ford. He uses his birdwatching binoculars to look at the Westing house and sees somebody is snowbound there, as well.

Turtle believes the clues she was given tell her what to spend the ten-thousand dollar check on, interpreting "Take stock in America" and "Go for broke" as advice to invest in the stock market. When Flora asks about the murderer, Turtle says there isn't one. She puts together a list of stocks to invest and includes Westing Paper Products, as per the closing line of the will. Flora thinks they're on the right track because the will said "May God thy gold refine," which she thinks must be a Bible quote and Turtle thinks is from Shakespeare.

Mr. Hoo and Grace Wexler look over their clues of FRUITED PURPLE WAVES FOR SEA. Grace asks about Hoo's wife, who is actually a second wife who came from Hong Kong two years ago. Grace interprets the last two words as meaning the murderer lives in apartment 4C, but Hoo scoffs since he lives there and the words don't mean that.

Doug is putting his half of the check to his savings account, Theo's half goes to his parents. The clues they have are HIS N ON TO THEE FOR. Theo guesses they may mean numbers, while Doug wonders if ON is really NO. Theo asks Doug about the night Turtle went to the house on the bet but Doug saw no clues that night. Theo mentions playing chess with somebody in the game room but has no idea who. Theo suspects all the clues together create one message and that the message will point to the murderer. Doug thinks the killer won't hand over the clues since it will be incriminating. Wanting to stay in shape for track, he runs up and down the stairs and hallways.

Judge Ford is insulted by the clues she received, SKIES AM SHINING BROTHER. She does not think Westing was murdered and she opens the envelope Plum gave her, which is a certificate of sanity from the previous week, signed Sidney Sikes, M.D. Remembering the newspaper obituary, she finds that Sikes is a friend of Westing and that both were involved in a near-fatal automobile accident. Judge Ford thinks that Sam Westing is using the Westing game to persecute one of the heirs, but she's not sure which one. She wonders how everyone is connected beyond Sunset Towers and realizes this is a good starting point. With the telephones working again, she calls up Barney Northrup and reaches an answering machine. She calls the newspaper and asks for information, which they don't usually supply but will do so in her case.

Angela finds what she wants in Turtle's desk and rejoins Sydelle, who unseals the envelope with their clues: GOOD GRACE FROM HOOD SPACIOUS. Sydelle thinks they should check automobile hoods for more clues. They go over the comments of the others in the game room last night and in their talks that day and come up with more clues: KING QUEEN PURPLE WAVES ON (NO) GRAINS MOUNTAIN (EMPTY). There is a knock on the door: it's Theo, asking for a game of chess. The object of the game is "to win" but Angela thinks it may mean "twin". Angela is scared at the thought of a murderer among them but Sydelle thinks it's about money so they're safe. But upon returning to Sydelle's apartment, they discover someone had stolen her shorthand notebook.


Turtle's striped candles become a significant part of the story as they provide the fuses to all the bombs that are set off - by Angela, herself, and ultimately Sam Westing. The fact that the Sunset Towers tenants are snowed in results in their keeping the front door of their apartments unlocked, paving the way for Madame Hoo to take advantage and start stealing from them.

As readers become aware of the clues the heirs possess, some reactions in the previous chapter become clearer. Clearly, the way each pair interprets their clues is based on who they are and what their interests are - for example, the umbrage that Judge Ford takes at the words of her clue have to do with racism, as she is African American. Further, Judge Ford immediately proves how dangerous she is to Sam Westing's game by thinking outside of it, correctly assuming that he had not been murdered and seeking out his real motive. In that sense, she is the main detective for the majority of the novel, finding relevant facts for the reader that help piece together Westing's true intention. Angela may have taken the striped candles for her bombs in this chapter, as she is looking for something and it's not stated what it is exactly.


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