The Westing Game

by Ellen Raskin
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Chapters 18-20 Summary

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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 861

Flora Baumbach, now affectionately called Baba, fixes Turtle’s braid every day and gives her the love and attention she craves. Flora calls Turtle by her chosen name, Alice, and talks about her own daughter, Rosalie, whose untimely passing has clearly left an aching void in her life.

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Sandy McSouthers and Josie-Jo Ford continue to compile information about each of the heirs in a notebook. They know that Flora Baumbach had a mentally challenged daughter who died tragically. She had also made a wedding gown for Violet Westing, although the bride-to-be never got to wear it. Sandy and J. J. have little information connecting Otis Amber and Denton Deere to Sam Westing other than that Otis is the delivery boy for Westing’s attorney, E. J. Plum, and that Doctor Deere is engaged to Angela Wexler, who resembles Violet Westing. Sydelle Pulaski is a secretary who had lived a barren life with her mother and two aunts before moving to Sunset Towers; Sandy and the judge can find no connection at all between her and Sam Westing.

Theo Theodorakis finds his partner, Doug Hoo, the next day and tells him that their clues point to Otis Amber and the chemical formula for ammonium nitrate, an explosive. Doug is preoccupied with his running and is not really interested, but Theo convinces him that he has to do his share in solving the mystery. Theo solicits his aid in following Otis to learn more about him. Doug jogs discretely after Otis as he delivers messages to the players from E. J. Plum, instructing them to meet again at the Westing mansion on Saturday night.

Even though Chris Theodorakis is more interested in his partner’s companionship than his medical expertise, Denton Deere arranges for him to see a neurologist who might be able to help him with a new medicine. Chris realizes that Doctor Deere is truly interested in his welfare, Chris tells him he will sign the ten-thousand-dollar check they share.

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Crow’s profile in J. J. and Sandy’s notebook is interesting, but her connection to Sam Westing is elusive. Berthe Erica Crow was married at the age of sixteen to a man named Windy Windkloppel; they divorced twenty-four years later. Crow became an alcoholic, then she quit drinking and took up religion. She has founded a skid row soup kitchen and works as a cleaning woman at Sunset Towers.

Crow’s partner, Otis Amber, believes that James Shin Hoo is the bomber, and Crow is consumed with hatred toward Hoo for hurting Angela Wexler, a “beautiful, innocent angel reborn.” With vengeance in her heart but no clear plan, Crow goes to the Chinese restaurant, which is now called Hoo’s on First. She sits with Jake Wexler and complains about the surgical wound on her foot; James Hoo overhears the conversation and offers Crow a pair of paper innersoles he has invented. This influences her to reconsider and conclude that he cannot be the bomber.

At the hospital, Chris gives Angela a letter he found in his bathrobe pocket. Chris thinks Theo wrote the note, but the letter is really from Crow to Theo, telling him to take his love away “from this sin and hate.” It includes two more clues: “WITH - MAJESTIES.”

Sandy and the judge review what they know about the Wexlers. Sandy reveals to J. J. that Jake is a bookie; he reddens inexplicably when the judge says that Jake’s sins are inconsequential in comparison to those of Sam Westing, who was manipulative and unscrupulous in his business dealings. As they read the Wexler family’s profile again, the judge suddenly perceives that Grace Windsor Wexler’s original name was Gracie Windkloppel—and Berthe Erica Crow was married to a man named Windy Windkloppel.

J. J. Ford has secured a transcript of an interview with Berthe Erica Crow’s childhood friend, Sybil Pulaski. Gleefully, she realizes that Sam Westing has made a mistake in his elaborately concocted game plan. One of his heirs has been chosen by mistake: Sydelle Pulaski.

Westing Paper Products’ stock rises precipitously, and Turtle and Flora sell at a profit. Theo ends up in the emergency room when he blows up the chemistry lab while experimenting with the “solution” provided by his Westing game clues. J. J. Ford meets with George Theodorakis, the father of Theo and Chris, and learns that his childhood sweetheart had indeed been Violet Westing. The two had planned to wed someday, but Violet’s mother had wanted her to marry “somebody important” and had arranged for her to tie the knot with a prestigious but crooked politician. Rather than go through with the marriage, Violet Westing killed herself.

Judge Ford is puzzled that George Theodorakis had not been chosen as one of the heirs, and she concludes that Sam Westing’s real purpose in creating his elaborate game was to punish one of the players—the one who had hurt him most by trying to force his daughter to “marry a man she loathed.” The judge is certain that Westing’s former wife is one of the heirs. She vows to find her and protect her.

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