Both Grace and Angela forget Turtle the next morning, the third snowbound day for Sunset Towers, so she goes to Flora Baumbach's apartment and asks Flora to braid her hair. Flora talks of her dead daughter Rosalie and Turtle complains that her mother doesn't think she's beautiful. Flora finds out Turtle's real name is Alice.
On the elevator message wall, a reward is offered by Judge Ford for the return of a gold railroad watch inscribed to Ezra Ford. Chris says something to Theo which Theo thinks is Ford, but it's actually 4D - where Judge Ford lives. As the meeting begins at the coffee shop, Mr. Hoo asks Grace Wexler where Turtle is. She says Turtle may be helping her father with his bookkeeping, which elicits laughter from Hoo. Theo asks for everyone's attention and asks everyone to pool their clues together to figure out the murderer and win the game; if they do so, the inheritance can be divided into equal shares. Sydelle says she should get a larger share because of her notes which provokes Mr. Hoo to slap the shorthand notebook on the counter. Sydelle grabs the book and calls Hoo a thief, but he says he found it on a table in his restaurant this morning; Grace Wexler, who knows shorthand, adds that she looked at the book but it didn't translate into words. Sydelle then reveals that she wrote the shorthand in Polish.
Hoo suggests that Sydelle Pulaski get a larger share than the others
and again stipulates he and Grace Wexler are not thieves. He offers to
share his clues but Judge Ford stops him, saying she has questions and
thinks others do, as well. The group decides to write questions on paper,
unsigned, and read them aloud. The first question is if anybody is a twin,
which no one answers; the second is about Turtle's real name, which Grace
Wexler says is "Tabitha-Ruth" and puzzles Flora Baumbach. The
third question asks who has actually met Sam Westing and only James. Hoo
raises his hand; Judge Ford does not raise her hand since it's her own
question. The last question is who was kicked last week, but Chris' question
goes unanswered as panic ensues.
Turtle prides herself on her braids, so her decision to seek out Flora's help in that matter not only shows how the Wexler family is falling apart, but how the Flora/Turtle bond is quickly growing. This works both ways, as Turtle has a maternal figure in Flora and Flora has a daughter figure to replace her dead Rosalie. Turtle's request that Flora call her Alice is a way for the two to share a bond all their own, even if it isn't Turtle's real name. The choice of Alice may reflect the most famous literary Alice, as Turtle herself is in a strange new wonderland within the intricacies of the Westing game.
Theo's common sense notion of pooling resources is foiled by the conflicts
between the heirs, first from Sydelle's missing notebook and then by the
explosion described in the next chapter.
Loud bangs shock the group. Theo and Doug run into the kitchen and Mrs. Theodorakis runs out, covered in what looks like blood but is actually tomato sauce. Everyone but Sydelle goes into the kitchen, which is covered in tomato sauce and fire extinguisher foam. Hoo thinks the cans of tomato sauce exploded from stove heat but George Theodorakis asserts that it was a bomb. Catherine Theodorakis says there's no real damage but they'll need to close up several days to clean up. Sydelle at last arrives in the kitchen, assuring everyone she's fine but a bit woozy.
Angela is in Sydelle's apartment while her partner transcribes her Polish shorthand, when Turtle knocks on the door demanding the newspaper Angela took from her desk. Turtle asks if Angela has seen her Mickey Mouse watch and warns Angela that she left the engagement ring on the sink again. Sydelle says Grace Wexler wouldn't stoop low enough to steal it, which makes Turtle laugh. Turtle says Grace thinks Angela stole the shorthand notebook since Angela does anything her mother wants her to do. Angela asks if their mother really said that and Turtle says she didn't but knows how adults think. As an example, she adds that Angela doesn't want to marry Denton Deere; when Sydelle disagrees, Turtle says that at least she doesn't need a crutch to get attention. Angela tries to defuse the situation and sends Turtle away; Sydelle opines that Turtle's figurative crutch is her big mouth, but Angela knows it's her braids.
The newspaperman calls Judge Ford and says that a photograph from twenty
years ago lists George Theodorakis as the escort of Violet Westing, Sam
Westing's daughter. She now knows of four heirs with Westing connections:
James Hoo, Theo's father, Sandy McSouthers, and herself. She decides to
hire a private detective, looks in a phone book, and finds a name which
grabs her attention. She isn't sure if she's playing into Sam Westing's
hand but calls anyway and is greeted by "a snowbound private investigator"
whose voice is the same as the person she thinks it is.
The first bomb immediately stirs tensions among the tenants and the heirs, but the lack of any real damage indicates a desire for mischief but not any real suffering. The bombs are a release of anger and a cry for help, but not vindictive or evil. Readers learn in this chapter that Angela has taken a newspaper from Turtle's desk, but the candles may still have been taken as well at the time. The revelation of George Theodorakis' romance with Violet Westing paves the way to expect something similar between the two younger characters who most resemble them in looks, Theo Theodorakis and Angela Wexler.
Cite this page:
Mescallado, Ray. "TheBestNotes on The Westing Game".
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