The Westing Game

by Ellen Raskin
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Chapters 23-24 Summary

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

Flora Baumbach and Turtle, sporting a new haircut, wait for the other players to arrive in the game room of the Westing mansion. Flora shows Turtle a picture of her daughter, Rosalie. Turtle is surprised to discover that the child Baba always speaks about so lovingly was severely afflicted with Downs’ Syndrome. Amazed at the depth of feeling Flora clearly has for her daughter, Turtle observes genuinely, “I think I would have liked her, Baba.”

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Many of the players comment on Turtle’s hair as they enter, but Theo goes straight to the chessboard. He sees that someone has moved a piece since they were here last, and he makes a countermove. Grace Wexler is uncharacteristically mellow—and very tipsy; she has spent the day reminiscing with her husband about good times, over wine.

Each team is presented with an envelope containing another ten thousand dollars; Judge Ford immediately turns hers over to Sandy, to help him provide for his family until he finds another job. When everyone is present, E. J. Plum continues reading the instructions for the Westing game, which now requires each team to present an answer in light of their clues.

Jake Wexler has no idea what the required answer is, and leaves it up to his partner, Madame Hoo, to respond; the Chinese lady utters one of the few English words she knows: “Boom!” Flora Baumbach and Turtle produce the cash they made by investing their game money in the stock market—their answer is the total, $11,587.50. Denton Deere has not spent much time thinking about the game, and his partner, Chris Theodorakis, does not want to accuse anyone of being the murderer. As their answer, Chris offers the observation that Mr. Westing was a “good man” who gave everyone perfect partners according to their needs.

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Latest answer posted February 17, 2018, 10:11 pm (UTC)

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In keeping with their decision to protect the expected victim of Sam Westing’s elaborate game, J. J. Ford and Sandy give no answer at all. Grace Wexler speaks for herself and her partner, James Hoo, naming E. J. Plum, the “purple fruit,” as the murderer. Crow cryptically utters the word “mother” as her and Otis Amber’s response.

Doug Hoo had never cared about the game one way or the other, and after seeing Otis Amber at work at the Soup Kitchen, Theo does not have the heart to name him as the murderer; their team too gives no answer. At the last table, Sydelle is confident that she and Angela are about to win. The secretary gets up and sings “America the Beautiful” in a remarkably tuneless voice and declares that the answer to the Westing game is Otis Amber.

There is a short break after the responses are given, and the players enjoy refreshments. Theo checks the chessboard again and gleefully notes that his anonymous opponent has made a careless move, allowing Theo to capture his queen. E. J. Plum then gives the next instructions—the players are now to go directly to the library.

The heirs regroup in the library and are astonished when E. J. Plum reads Sam Westing’s next declaration—all the answers are wrong! The lawyer is instructed to leave the players alone in the room while he fetches the authorities; while he is gone, there will be one last chance for them to figure out the required name before it is too late. Westing provides one clue, saying, “It is not what you have, it’s what you don’t have that counts.”

At Theo’s suggestion, everyone puts their clues together to try to solve the mystery. Sydelle is still convinced that the answer lies in the words to the song “America the Beautiful.” Sure enough, when the clues are all laid out, there are some letters missing. Sandy oversees the proceedings, and J. J. Ford is perturbed. Her partner is leading the players directly to Crow. As she studies his features incredulously, it suddenly occurs to J. J that Sandy is Sam Westing.

As J. J. Ford predicted, the missing sections of the song spell out the name Berthe Erica Crow. When the judge steps forward to protect the woman, Sandy suddenly collapses to the floor. Just at that moment, E. J. Plum returns with a man who limps on badly deformed legs. The man identifies himself as Doctor Sikes. As he attends to the victim, Sandy writhes, seems to wink at Turtle (who is horrified), and is still. Doctor Sikes declares him dead.

The players are herded back into the game room, and Sam Westing’s next instructions are read. Westing reveals that he was born Sam “Windy” Windkloppel and says that the heirs will now have five minutes to declare the name of the murderer and win the game. As the seconds tick by, no one dares to say what they all know and be the one to condemn the guilty individual. Finally, with only a minute left to spare, Crow speaks up and implicates herself. She is “the answer and...the winner,” and she decrees that the prize money be split evenly between Otis Amber, for use by the Good Salvation Soup Kitchen, and Angela Wexler.

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