The Westing Game

by Ellen Raskin

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What do the notes on the elevator reveal about what is happening in Sunset Towers in The Westing Game?

What strategies does Grace Wexler use to obtain clues from her daughters?

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The notes on the elevator reveal first of all that there is apparently a great need for a "bulletin board" in Sunset Towers.  Within a day, "the elevator (is) papered with notices and filled with tenants facing sideways and backwards, reading as they (ride) up and down".  The two major topics addressed by the notes are lost or stolen items, and clues for the Westing Game.  Among the missing things are "important business papers" belonging to Sydelle Pulaski, jewelry belonging to Grace Windsor, a clock belonging to Turtle Wexler, and a string of pearls belonging to Flora Baumbach.

In a shamelessly hypocritical ploy to obtain clues from her daughters, Grace Wexler puts on a show of being uncharacteristically nice.  She stops herself from using her ordinarily critical, demeaning approach with Turtle and "quickly sweeten(s)" her tone, calling her younger daughter "dear" and inviting her to go to her room so she can do her hair.  Turtle, momentarily caught off-guard, notes that her mother "had not done (her hair) with such care in a long, long time...her mother was so warm, so close".  She is mystified when Grace tells her that she "look(s) so pretty in pink"; her mother had "never used that word (pretty) before, not about her".  Turtle's confusion is soon resolved, however, when her mother reveals the real reason behind her sudden change in demeanor, "wheedl(ing)...'you know, sweetheart, I'm rather hurt that you won't tell your own mother about your clues'".  Having seen through her mother's duplicity, Turtle defiantly clams up, at which point Grace Wexler returns to her normal practice of ignoring her recalcitrant offspring. 

When Grace Wexler's "favorite", Angela, comes in with her partner Sydelle Pulaski, Grace focuses her attention on Sydelle, in hopes of getting the woman to share her notes with her.  As usual, she completely overlooks Angela herself, even as she seeks to gain access to the clues Angela might have discovered to this point.  Instead, "her voice dripping with honey", she addresses Sydelle, whom she obviously considers to be the significant member of the team, observing that if she (Grace) wins the inheritance, everything she owns goes to Angela (Chapter 9).

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