What provoked Grace to almost hit Turtle in The Westing Game?
Grace Wexler almost hits Turtle because Turtle talks back rudely to her. Turtle snaps at her mother after her mother demeans her, as is her habit. Turtle is vehement, close to a tantrum, and Grace leaps up, "hand ready to strike," but, having never hit Turtle before, restrains herself just in time.
Grace had been "supervising the fitting of her daughter (Angela's) wedding dress." Angela is her perfect, angelic daughter, in contrast to Turtle, who, in her mother's eyes, is plain and ill-behaved. Turtle comes into the room during the fitting, and precipitously asks the dressmaker to hem her Halloween costume, a witch's costume. Grace Wexler, annoyed by Turtle's interruption, harshly scolds her, saying,
"Can't you see she's busy with Angela's wedding dress? And why must you wear a silly costume like that? Really, Turtle, I don't kow why you insist on making yourself ugly."
Turtle, hurt, snaps back at her mother, shouting,
"It's no sillier than a wedding dress...besides, nobody gets married anymore, and if they do, they don't wear silly wedding dresses...besides, who would want to marry that stuck-up-know-it-all-marshmallow-face-doctor-denton...?"
Grace Wexler loses her temper at Turtle's impertinence, but her own comments, which instigated the situation, show that she is not blameless in the turbulent relationship between the two of them. Grace belittles Turtle continually, constantly comparing her to her older sister Angela. Turtle, as a result, is an angry child, quick to fight back in her own defense (Chapter 3).