The Westing Game

by Ellen Raskin

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In The Westing Game, who killed Sam Westing?

Quick answer:

Sam Westing is not actually dead, so it turns out that no one actually killed him. Rather, he disguises himself as Sandy McSouthers throughout the game. Sam Westing fakes his death to bring all the heirs close together and realize their potential.

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The answer is: no one!  Sam Westing died of old age, although he lived the last years of his life under a pseudonym (and in disguise, for part of the time, as Sandy McSouthers the doorman.)  Turtle Wexler is the one who discovers that Sam Westing is not really dead, and has been among the "heirs" all this time masquerading as Sandy.  After the "game" is ended, Turtle, who becomes a business tycoon, befriends the aging Mr. Westing.  He actually had lived under four different names

The heir who wins the windfall will be the one who finds the fourth.  It was so simple once you knew what you were looking for.  Sam Westing, Barney Northrup, Sandy McSouthers (west, north, south).  Now she was on her way to meet the fourth identity of Windy Windkloppel.  She could probaby have figured out the address, too, instead of looking it up in the Westingtown phone book -- there it was, number four Sunrise Lane. (174-5)

Turtle never tells anyone that Sam Westing is alive, but she visits him weekly until he dies peacefully of old age.  The corpse she had found in the beginning of the book was a wax copy, and Sam Westing's personal doctor had been in on the conspiracy to make people believe that Sam was actually dead.  The whole ruse was created by Sam to bring his "heirs" together and right some past wrongs.  The game actually helped all of the heirs realize their true potentials, and take the proper direction in their lives.

Source: Raskin, Ellen.  The Westing Game.  New York: Avon Books, 1978.

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In The Westing Game, who killed Sam Westing? Why? How?

No one killed Sam Westing. He faked his own death to get closer to his family.

Sam Westing was rich, but he led a difficult life. His daughter died, and he left town. He decided to create a murder mystery puzzle to get all of his heirs together. The objective seems to be to allow him to spend time with his extended family.

Turtle is the only one who really realizes what is going on, but Westing is happy about that. She marches into his office and announces that she won the game. He is clearly pleased with this development.

His watery blue eyes stared at her over his rimless half-glasses. Hard eyes. His teeth were white, not quite even (no one would ever guess they were false). He was smiling. He wasn’t angry with her, he was smiling. (Ch. 27)

As Sam Westing, Sandy McSouthers, Barney Northrup, and Julian R. Eastman, he gets to spend a lot of time with his family members. He learns who is genuine and who is not. He is also able to get to know Turtle. Turtle and “Eastman” become good friends. She inherits his money, but does not tell anyone what really happened to Sam Westing.

When Turtle, now T.R. Wexler, sits at Westing’s bedside, we can tell how close the two have become.

“This is it, Turtle.” His voice was weak.

“You can die before my very eyes, Sandy, and I wouldn’t believe it.”

“Show some respect. I can still change my will.”

“No, you can’t. I’m your lawyer.” (Ch. 30)

So you see, no one killed Sam Westing. He dies of old age, with his family by his side. He might not have his daughter anymore, but Turtle becomes a sort of adopted daughter.  She is spunky and intelligent, and the two of them are perfect for each other.

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Who may have murdered Sam Westing in The Westing Game?  

No one murdered Sam Westing because he isn’t dead, but all of the residents of Sunset Towers are suspects. 

The Sunset Towers apartment building was specifically designed for a select group of people who had a special connection to Sam Westing.  Technically, they are all suspects at one time or another.  This is why they are chosen to live there and to participate in the Westing Game.  However, it turns out that Westing has been alive and watching them under various aliases all along. 

Westing was a paper products tycoon who made a lot of money and then disappeared. No one has seen him in years, and until the heirs moved into Sunset Towers, the Westing mansion was empty.  You can see the Westing mansion from the apartment building, and one day there was smoke coming from the chimney. 

Westing specifies in his will that he was murdered. 

I, Samuel W. Westing, hereby swear that I did not die of natural causes. My life was taken from me—by one of you!

The police are helpless. The culprit is far too cunning to be apprehended for this dastardly deed. (Ch. 6) 

This pronouncement is obviously intended to pit the heirs against each other and make them suspicious of one another. The heirs are not sure what the purpose of gathering them together is.  They realize they all have a connection to Sam Westing in some way.  When the will is read, they are paired off to participate in a game to win his inheritance.  However, most of them still think that he was murdered. 

“Murder? Does that mean Westing was murdered?” Sandy asked the heir on his left.

Crow turned away in silence.

“Does that mean murder?” he asked the heir on his right.

“Murder? Of course it means murder. Sam Westing was murdered,” Mr. Hoo replied. … (Ch. 6) 

A lot of them have motive.  Crow is Westing's ex-wife, and she definitely has bad blood with him because they divorced after their daughter died the night before her wedding.  Mr. Hoo sued Westing, claiming he stole his invention.  The others could easily just want to kill him for his money.  Someone has been stealing, and bombs keep going off.

It is actually the youngest player in the game who figures out that Sam Westing has been there all along.  He has masqueraded as Barney Northrup, Sandy McSouthers, and Julian R. Eastman.  This way, he could keep an eye on his game.  Turtle discovers the truth, and wins the game.  They become good friends.  Sam Westing later dies of natural causes.

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