The Westing Game

by Ellen Raskin

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What was unusual about the tenant selection at Sunset Towers in The Westing Game?

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What is unusual about the apartment numbers at Sunset Towers in The Westing Game is that they are only accompanied by the letters c or d.

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The tenants of Sunset Towers were hand-picked.

The first unusual thing about the Sunset Towers tenants is that the person who delivers the advertisement, Barney Northrup, is sixty-two years old.  He is riding around town hand-delivering letters.  The description of Sunset Towers makes it perfect for the people who...

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get the letters.  For example, there is space for a dentist, a coffee shop, and a restaurant.  Also unusual is the fact that everyone who gets a letter makes an appointment to see the place. 

When showing the Wexlers their apartment, Northrup knows exactly what to say to impress them. 

“You’re really in luck,” Barney Northrup said. “There’s only one apartment left, but you’ll love it. It was meant for you.” He flung open the door to 3D. “Now, is that breathtaking, or is that breathtaking?” (Ch. 1) 

Realtors often say that a place is meant for you when showing it to you, but in this case he means it.  Each tenant was hand-picked, and a letter hand-delivered.  There is an apartment for each of them.  They are Westing family heirs.  However, as we are told, there is just one problem. 

Who were these people, these specially selected tenants? They were mothers and fathers and children. A dressmaker, a secretary, an inventor, a doctor, a judge. And, oh yes, one was a bookie, one was a burglar, one was a bomber, and one was a mistake. Barney Northrup had rented one of the apartments to the wrong person. (Ch. 1) 

It turns out that Sydelle Pulaski was chosen by mistake.  The private investigator who was supposed to find everyone, Otis Amber, found Sydelle Pulaski instead of SybilPulaski.  Other than that, everyone was hand-picked by Sam Westing to play the Westing Game.  He wanted to get to know his heirs, and find out what kind of people they were.  Westing was an eccentric man.

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What was unusual about Sunset Towers in The Westing Game?

There are several things that are unusual about Sunset Towers.  First of all, there is its name - the sun sets in the west, but Sunset Towers faces east, and it has no towers.  The apartment building has five stories and stands along on the Lake Michigan shore.  It is "glittery, (and) glassy", and the glass is one-way glass; "you can see out, (but) nobody can see in".

Although the building is huge, there are only six families living there, and they have been hand-picked.  Each prospective tenant had been delivered a letter by "a most uncommon-looking delivery boy".  The delivery boy was sixty-two years old.  The letters that the prospective tenants received were signed by a Barney Northrup, only "there is no such person as Barney Northrup".

The delivery boy announced to each of his prospective tenants that "there's only one apartment left...it was meant for you".  Under the delivery boy's persuasion, each of the prospective tenants agreed to rent the apartment they were offered, which was a good thing, because their names were already printed on the mailboxes in the lobby (Chapter 1).

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What is unusual about the apartment numbers at Sunset Towers in The Westing Game?

In the story, we are told that Barney Northrup (who is really Sam Westing in disguise) manages to rent all of the spaces in Sunset Towers in one day.

Apartment 2C is rented to Flora Baumbach, a dressmaker, and apartment 2D is rented to the Theodorakis family. The Theodorakis family also rents space in the lobby of Sunset Towers for their coffee shop.

Meanwhile, apartment 3C is rented to Sydelle Pulaski, who is the "mistake" among all the renters. Northrup was supposed to rent apartment 3C to Sybil Pulaski.

Next, apartment 3D is rented to the Wexler family, which consists of Dr. Jake Wexler (who also rents office space in Sunset Towers), his wife Grace Windsor Wexler, and their two daughters, Angela and Tabitha-Ruth ("Turtle").

Apartment 4C is occupied by the Hoo family, who also rents space for a Chinese restaurant on the fifth floor of Sunset Towers. The father, James Shin Hoo, is prone to grumbling. It upsets him that the Theodorakis coffee shop gets more business than his restaurant. James also thinks that his son Doug, who is a high school track athlete, spends too much time on sports at the expense of his studies.

Finally, apartment 4D is rented to Judge Josie-Jo (J. J.) Ford, an African-American woman in her early forties. It was Sam Westing who financed her education.

In the story, there's no explicit explanation for why the apartment numbers are only tied to the alphabet letters c and d. However, the choices certainly highlight the eccentric nature of Sam Westing.

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What is unusual about the Sunset Towers In The Westing Game?

Sunset Towers is unusual because the people who live in it were hand-selected.

There are many unusual things about Sunset Towers.  The fact that each inhabitant was hand picked to lI've there (except the imposter) is only one strange thing.  The placement of the building is odd.  It is next to the lake, but right in sight of the Westing Mansion.  This is no coincidence.  Someone wants them to look up, or wants to look down.

Then there's the building.

The sun sets in the west (just about everyone knows that), but Sunset Towers faced east. Strange! (Ch.1)

The strangeness continues!  There is one way glass.  The features and location are way too luxurious for the cheap rent.  No one ever eats at the Chinese place!

 Not only do odd things keep happening, such as bombs going off, but the residents get paired up to play the Westing Game.  They are all supposedly connected to Westing.  The choosing them to live there was no coincidence, and neither was the elderly delivery man.

Soon, of course, it's revealed by the brilliant and misunderstood Turtle that Westing was not only not dead, but actually among them from the start.  The whole thing was a convoluted opportunity to reclaim his youth, grieve for his daughter, get back at his ex-wife, find an heir, prove he wasn't dead, come back to civilization, and have some fun.

The odd features of Sunset Towers are all clues, from where it faces where it is located.  This is a mystery, after all. Pay attention to anything odd or our of place!

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