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Themes

Little Words, Big Ideas

Appearances

One big idea of The Westing Game is that people aren't who they appear to be. People are both literally and figuratively in disguise. Significantly, appearances have the power to limit people wheth...

Wealth

Money always makes people act funny. That's especially true in The Westing Game, though, where the money in question is $200 million, and both an inheritance and people's lives are hanging in the b...

Family

There are two kinds of families in The Westing Game: the family you choose and the family you're born into. Westing doesn't just leave his estate to a relative; he creates a game of strategy that w...

Patriotism

The Westing Game is almost weirdly patriotic. (There's evidence Raskin wrote it after being inspired by the 1976 bicentennial: see this link.) Can you think of another murder mystery that's so prou...

Identity

The central mystery of The Westing Game, really, ends up being about discovering who Sam Westing is. In fact, there's $200 million riding on finding Westing's fourth identity. For most of the book'...

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 th...

Lies and Deceit

In The Westing Game, the theme of "Lies and Deceit" has a lot in common with the theme of "Identity." Here's why: the majority of lies, tricks, and disguises in this text all have to do with who pe...

Society and Class

For The Westing Game, class and status still pose real problems. Several of Sunset Towers' tenants move in because they're excited about the prospect of living in such a fancy building; they're eve...
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