The Westing Game
How we cite our quotes:
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 know why you insist on making yourself ugly. (3.15)
These lines both compare/contrast Turtle and Angela, and swiftly highlight their mother's relationship with each of them. Notice how Grace privileges Angela over Turtle – her needs are always going to be more important. Even though the sisters are kind of doing the same thing – they're each dressing up as something they're not, or at least not ready to be – Grace hobbles Turtle and pushes Angela. Grace also makes it sound like the fact that Turtle's not as pretty as her sister is her fault, and under her control.
What good luck, the hobbling Sydelle Pulaski thought. Now she would really be noticed with such a pretty young thing for a partner. They might even invite her to the wedding. She'd paint a crutch white with little pink nosegays. (7.23)
Sydelle places a value judgment on Angela based entirely on her looks; what she's really interested in is what Angela's looks can do for her, Sydelle. But while it might seem like Sydelle's praising Angela's beauty, she's still not thinking of her as a person, calling her a "thing"; in a way, Sydelle is dismissing Angela for her beauty in much the same way as other people dismiss Sydelle for not having that kind of beauty.
Her mother twisted the three strands into a braid. 'I think you should wear your party dress tonight; you look so pretty in pink.'
Pretty? She had never used that word before, not about her. What's going on? (9.21-22)
It's sad that when Grace finally calls Turtle pretty, Turtle automatically suspects that her mother has an ulterior motive. Grace hardly ever gives Turtle positive reinforcement, and Turtle simply doesn't trust her mother. This sadness is deepened by the fact that Turtle's right – Grace doesn't think Turtle looks pretty so much as she hopes to flatter her into giving up clues. There are two words for this: bad parenting.