The Westing Game
Lies and Deceit Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
'I have twenty people begging for this apartment,' Barney Northrup said, lying through his buckteeth. 'Take it or leave it.' (1.30)
Well, Barney is actually lying on several levels. He tells each tenant that twenty other folks are "begging" for whatever apartment he's showing, but we know that's impossible – only six letters were sent out advertising the place. He has the same spiel for each tenant and must be doing something right, because by the time his work is done, he's rented the building exactly as he wanted to. As we also know at this point, though, Barney's lying by just virtue of pretending to be someone named Barney.
(Now, there's a likely suspect, Otis Amber thought. Hoo, the inventor; Hoo, the angry man, the madman.) […]
(Can't trust that dressmaker, Mr. Hoo thought. How come she's grinning at a time like this?) (16.24, 16.22)
While these lines do a great job of showing off the book's narrative structure (head over to our section "Narrator Point of View" to find out more about that, and then come back here), they also show how little each of the characters know each other. Everyone looks down on Otis as the kind of slow, elderly delivery boy, but of course he's in disguise. Isn't everyone? In the few asides we get from him we see glimpses of a much smarter person who here is coming up with a pretty good idea of a suspect with a strong motive. Then, the narrator undercuts that by telling us who that suspect suspects. Of course, Mr. Hoo is basing his assumption of Flora's possible guilt based on her inappropriate (smiling) behavior. Of the two, Otis probably has a stronger case. (Even though they're both wrong.)
He hated himself for spying. He hated Sam Westing and his dirty money and his dirty game. Theo felt as dirty as the derelicts he spied on. Dirtier. (21.19)
Poor Theo – here, he's learning the hard way that spying on people doesn't pay. He's mad at Westing, and the guy's game and money, for putting him in a position where he feels like spying was necessary. After getting himself together to follow the suspicious Otis about town, Theo ends up observing him feeding soup to the homeless, which is about as far from the stereotype of a murderer as you can get.