Study Guide

The Westing Game Chapter 4

By Ellen Raskin

Chapter 4

The Corpse Found

  • It's Halloween night: Turtle's dressed as a witch and prepped with supplies, including her mother's silver cross, for staying in the Westing house.
  • Doug's acting as timekeeper, and Turtle's committed to staying twenty-five minutes, which would make $50. She tells herself she's not scared, and goes inside.
  • Eleven minutes pass, and Doug hears her screaming. She comes running out, screaming, leaving her supplies behind.
  • We find out she saw a dead body, not on a rug like Otis said, but in a bed, and she heard a whisper— either "pur-ple" or "Tur-tle." She left behind her mother's cross, too. But she managed to stay for twelve minutes, so she's owed $24.
  • The next day, when the morning paper arrives, she takes it back to her bed and sees the dead man's picture in it, along with his obituary.
  • The obituary's headline says "Sam Westing Found Dead" (4.15) and gives some details about his life: he'd been missing thirteen years; he was sixty-five; he was the son of immigrants; he was the founder of Westing Paper Products; his estate is worth $200 million. The obituary also says he loved games, including chess, and was very patriotic: he loved fireworks.
  • On a personal level, his daughter Violet died tragically and his wife left him. Then he was in a car accident with his friend Sidney Sikes, on their way to a court hearing, and disappeared.
  • Turtle's impressed by the money, but she feels weird that the article doesn't say who discovered the body. She thinks back to how she saw a note, "If I am found dead in bed," and touched the man's dead hand, before she started screaming and ran away.
  • She tells herself it's no big deal, that no one noticed her, and leaves to get her twenty-four bucks.
  • At lunchtime, Otis has to deliver sixteen letters, including one to himself. They're from the attorney E.J. Plum, saying that each recipient is named in Sam Westing's will, and has to attend the reading of the will the next day. Each person has to sign a receipt and write down his or her position (like a job, or how they define themselves).
  • Grace signs and writes "housewife," then "decorator," then changes to "heiress." Madame Hoo just writes an X. Chris writes "Christos Theodorakis, birdwatcher." Otis calls himself a "deliverer."