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The Westing Game

The Westing Game

by Ellen Raskin

Analysis: Setting

Where It All Goes Down

Sunset Towers (apartment building) and the Westing House, Lake Michigan, Wisconsin

THIS SECTION CONTAINS SPOILERS.

Nearly all of the book's action takes place in two domestic settings: the new apartment building, Sunset Towers, and the neighboring Westing house. (The fact that they're in Wisconsin makes the important plot device of the snowstorm seem totally believable.) Most of the book is set in Sunset Towers. Nearly all the characters live there, there are two restaurants inside, and a snowstorm traps the residents within for several days. Since Sunset Towers is created precisely for the game – and broken up as prizes when the game's over – it can be seen as an elaborate game board where the characters are set up as "pieces." In a way, it's like a stage set for Westing's private play, enacted right next door to his original estate. It's designed to be just affordable and classy enough to appeal to each individual tenant, and it seems to be giving each of them what they want.

The Westing house, in contrast, seems creepy and dangerous, with its seventeen shuttered windows and big French doors. Not only is it isolated, empty, and dark, it's got mysterious smoke coming from the chimney and people who limp sneaking in and out. It's where Turtle thinks she sees a dead body, where the heirs are taunted by the ideas of fortune and partnership. And where Sandy dies. It sounds kind of like the house in the board game Clue, with its game room, library, and echoing staircases. When it burns down at the end of the book, what are we supposed to think?

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