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The Westing Game

The Westing Game


by Ellen Raskin

The Westing Game Theme of Language and Communication

Secretly, The Westing Game is all about close reading. The whole point of solving a mystery with these kinds of clues seems to be going over and over these small pieces of information, analyzing them from all sides, and coming up with a possible "thesis" for whodunit. Whether it's figuring out what "purple waves" means, reading between the lines of the Sam Westing's will itself, or evaluating which person limps and in what manner, everything hinges on figuring out what Westing meant in order to solve the mystery. Ultimately, solving the mystery requires paying attention to the way the language in the will is structured. If only all of our English lit. papers carried such high stakes rewards.

Questions About Language and Communication

  1. Did you notice anything funky about Westing's will when you read it the first time? If so, what?
  2. If the clues spell out a phrase that's not the correct answer, what's the point of having them in the first place?
  3. Why do you think so many clues seem to point to Otis Amber?
  4. Can you find any moments in the text where the narrator's deliberately keeping information from us? How do these moments shape our eventual understanding of the puzzle's solution?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

In designing the challenge to find his next heir, Westing's ultimate goal was to find the best analyst, or reader, rather than the best strategist.

Besides Turtle, who eventually solves the mystery, the character who does the best job of interpreting the will's clues is _________.

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