Free Study Guide for The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin

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CHAPTER 15: Fact and Gossip


On Friday, life returns to normal: Flora is alarmed at the three thousand dollars they've lost in the stocker market in the past five days but Turtle assures her it isn't a big deal. The five people who made the bet on Halloween - Sandy McSouthers, Otis Amber, Theo Theodorakis, Doug Hoo, and Turtle Wexler - discuss that night. Turtle insists Sam Westing looked too peaceful to have been murdered; Theo argues that perhaps Westing didn't see it coming. They discuss possible ways Westing could have been killed unaware. Doug is suspicious of the person opening the hoods of cars a couple days ago, using Turtle's boots. Turtle says her boots were stolen and returned. Otis thinks none of them are murderers but Theo isn't as sure: if there's no murderer then there's no answer and no winner. He asks Sandy if anybody led Sunset Towers on Halloween night before Turtle and Doug. Sandy can only recall Otis Amber and Crow leaving around five o'clock. Turtle asks Sandy for a story and he tells one of a soothsayer who predicted the day of his own death, was surprised nothing happened on that day, and laughed so hard he died of laughter one minute before midnight.

Jake Wexler goes to Hoo's restaurant for lunch and to talk with his wife. He asks about presents on the coffee table, which are for Angela's wedding shower the next day. Mr. Hoo delivers a plate of spareribs and joins the Wexlers, as Grace brings up an advertising campaign she's planned that would rename Shin Hoo's to Hoo's On First. Jake laughs and supports the idea, though Hoo himself objects and walks off with the plate of ribs.

Judge Ford and Sandy McSouthers wish to interrogate George Theodorakis and James Shin Hoo, so they decide to order dinners from each on alternating nights. When they order up from the coffee shop, they're disappointed to have Theo deliver their meal and have no questions for him. Theo has a question for them about chess, and Sandy confesses to not knowing the game. Going over clippings from the newspaperman, Judge Ford and Sandy review information on the Westing Family.

There is very little information on Mrs. Westing, no first name or maiden name and few photos. The final picture is of her in a black veil leaving a cemetery. Neither Jimmy Hoo nor Flora Baumbach ever met Mrs. Westing; Violet's fiancé took her to the shop for fittings. Sandy saw Mrs. Westing once or twice and remembers a mole on the right corner of her mouth. Judge Ford did not remember the mouth and her memories of the woman are very different from what Sandy describes.

Violet Westing is next. They review the headline of Violet to marry a senator; the senator turned out to only be a state senator and is now serving a five-year bribery sentence. As Flora claims, Violet looked a great deal like Angela Wexler and George Theodorakis was the man dancing with her in the society page clippings. Sandy explains that Theo looks like his father, who Violet Westing wanted to marry. According to gossip at the time, Violet killed herself rather than marry a crooked politician. Judge Ford asks if Angela and Theo are involved and Sandy hopes not: if Sam Westing wants to replay that terrible drama, Angela Wexler has to die.


Turtle's refusal to be phased by the vagaries of the stock market are a subtle foreshadowing of the nerves of steel she needs to win the Westing game. The clues to the identity of the person looking in the hoods of cars is apparent with Turtle's boots, but as with the identity of the bomber, no one even thinks to consider Angela as a suspect. Sandy's soothsayer fable for Turtle is a kind of secret confession, as Sam Westing predicts his "death" and takes great delight in playing with his destiny.

The pun of Hoo's On First of course refers to the vaudeville routine popularized by Bud Abbott & Lou Costello. That Grace comes up with this clever title and Jakes approves of it shows that a chance for re-connection is still possible. Where the Wexler wordplay is evident of Raskin's own playfulness, the more literal-minded concerns of other people are reflected in James Hoo's impatience at this idea. The mystery of Mrs. Westing - no one seeing her clearly or remembering what she looks like - is necessary in order to delay the revelation that she is, in fact, Berthe Erica Crow. When Sandy McSouthers hopes history doesn't repeat itself with Angela Wexler being a second Violet Westing, it initially seems like mild concern. Knowing he is really Sam Westing, readers can find greater significance in his insistence that a romance between Angela and Theo isn't possible. He isn't merely an observer but a survivor of the Violet Westing tragedy, and does not want to see it happen again to a niece of his.


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