The Westing Game
by Ellen Raskin
The Westing Game Language and Communication Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
Sit down, your honor, and read the letter this brilliant young attorney will now hand over to you. (6.36)
Creepily, this moment is like the will is actually talking to the judge. It seems almost impossible that a written document – which is created before it's read, of course – could anticipate the events that would happen while it was being read down to the precise moment that they take place. And yet, that's what happens here. The will's author knows that a particular line will make Judge Ford stand up indignantly, and so the author also includes this statement to try and calm her down. It seems like the will's author has a better idea of the other characters' behavioral patterns (if not their actual identities) than they do of his.
It is not what you have, it's what you don't have that counts. (7.31) (8.90) (8.100) (24.8) (24.21) (25.62) (26.61)
This might as well be the theme for the whole book – it's an idea that's true in the will, in the language the characters use, and in some aspects of life. Filling in the gaps between the material that's already there is what matters, and it's how you solve mysteries, particularly this one. It's both the answer to the clues given in the will and a clue that points Turtle towards figuring out the answer to the real question the game poses. What's the missing piece? How can you use the pieces that you have to figure out what's not there? Because that's what you really are going to need.
In his will Sam Westing implied (he did not state, he implied) that (1) he was murdered, (2) the murderer was one of the heirs, (3) he alone knew the name of the murderer, and (4) the name of the murderer was the answer to the game. (8.74-75)
Here Judge Ford does a great job of close reading the will, reminding herself (and by extension, the readers) exactly what Westing does and doesn't say in the will, versus what the will seems to be conveying to the other players/readers. The key here is in her repeated use of the word "implied," which puts her on a path towards thinking what else the will might be saying – someone else could be in danger.