The Westing Game
by Ellen Raskin
The Westing Game Language and Communication Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
They say his corpse is still up there in that big old house. They say his body is sprawled out on a fancy Oriental rug, and his flesh is rotting off those mean bones, and maggots are creeping in his eye sockets and crawling out his nose holes. (2.10)
As stories within stories go, this one's pretty gnarly – and effective. Before long, just about every character is retelling a garbled version of it, perpetuating the myth that Westing is long dead, or that his death is believable, and also pushing Turtle into going into what seems like a haunted house. The story gets even creepier when we find out Sandy made it up and encouraged Otis to start telling it – it's an urban myth in action.
Gloomy tomb of a room--Theo will make a good writer someday, Chris thought. He wouldn't spoil this wonderful, spooky Halloween story by telling him about the real person up there, the one with the limp. (3.48)
Here we have competing stories. Theo shares his with Chris using elaborate combinations of words, and Chris recognizes this as proof of Theo's future career. He hesitates to "spoil" Theo's ideas by relating what he knows really happened. In a way, though, the story Chris doesn't tell is just as out there and spooky. As the silent watcher, Chris knows more about what the real story of what's happening over in the Westing house than aspiring writer Theo does. He may be shy, too, about the fact that (at this point) he can't communicate his version of the story with the ease and ability that Theo can.
"Itsss-oo-nn," Chris announced.
"What did he say?"
"He said it's snowing," Theo and Flora Baumbach explained at the same time. (5.24-26)
This moment shows us the separations there can be between language in thoughts and language in speech, as well as in understanding different kinds of speech. Chris's medical condition keeps him from articulating ideas in ways some people can understand, but we know from the text's POV/narrative voice that he has very articulate inner thoughts. While we know the reason Theo's able to interpret Chris's speech – he's had plenty of practice as a caregiver – we don't know Flora's. We'll find out later that she had a disabled daughter, but for now this just creates a sense of mystery around her character.