The Westing Game: Summary & Characters

Instructor: Della McGuire

Della has been teaching secondary and adult education for over 20 years. She holds a BS in Sociology, MEd in Reading, and is ABD on the MComm in Storytelling.

In this lesson, we will look at the intriguing puzzle mystery ''The Westing Game'' by Ellen Raskin, and discuss some of the fascinating characters in this award-winning adolescent novel.

The Game is Afoot

The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin is an award-winning puzzle mystery in which the heirs to Sam Westing's fortune are brought together at his mansion in order to solve his secret through clues. Sixteen heirs play the game to win the fortune; in addition, there are a few other characters who are not part of the game. The heirs, who have been assembled in a nearby apartment building called Sunset Towers, are divided into pairs and provided with money and a series of clues. This leaves us with eight pairs of players trying to solve the mystery and win the prize: 200 million dollars and ownership of Westing's business.

Let's take a look at the residents of Sunset Towers playing the Westing game.

Apartment 2C

Flora Baumbach is a kind seamstress and becomes a maternal figure in the story. Her daughter died of pneumonia and her husband disappeared. She bonds closely with her partner, Turtle Wexler.

Apartment 2D

The Theodorakis family occupies 2D and runs the coffee shop on the first floor. The parents, who aren't participants in the game, are minor characters, but the two Theodorakis sons are among the heirs to the Westing fortune. Theo is in high school, works in the coffee shop and is very protective of his younger brother Chris. Chris is 15 and has a physical disability that confines him to a wheelchair. Although he has difficulty speaking, he is intelligent and provides evidence he uncovered while a witness to critical events he sees while bird-watching at his window. Theo's partner is Doug Hoo and Chris is partnered with Dr. Denton Deere, Angela Wexler's fiance, who later cures his condition.

Apartment 3C

Sydelle Pulaski became part of the game by mistake when her name was misread as that of one of the intended heirs, Sybil Pulaski. It is a lucky mistake, however, because she is a secretary whose transcription skills allow the players to benefit from her notes. She struggles to get attention by walking around on crutches with a fake injury and develops a friendship with Chris Theodorakis. Her partner is Angela Wexler.

Apartment 3D

Apartment 3D houses the Wexler family. Jake and Grace are married with two daughters, Angela and Tabitha Ruth who is called ''Turtle.'' Jake, a podiatrist with an office on the first floor of Sunset Towers, works as a bookie for a hobby. His partner is Madame Sun Lin Hoo. Grace, who is a bit snobbish and wants to be an interior designer, is partnered with James Shin Hoo; both partners pretend to have more money than they do. Angela is 20 years old and engaged to Dr. Denton Deere. She is the favored child in the family and her partner is Sydelle Pulaski. Thirteen-year-old daughter Turtle is ignored by her family, who prefer her perfect sister. Turtle plays the stock market and wears her hair in a long dark braid that she violently protects by kicking people in the shin when they touch it. Turtle is partnered with Flora Baumbach.

Apartment 4C

The Hoo family runs Shin Hoo's restaurant on the 5th floor of Sunset Towers. James Shin Hoo is the father of Doug Hoo and constantly yells at him to study more. He believes Sam Westing stole a patent from him and is bitter about it. His partner is Grace Wexler. His wife Madame Sun Lin Hoo is also bitter, but about leaving her home. She steals other residents' property to fund her return to China. Her partner is Jake Wexler and her stepson is Doug Hoo. Doug is a high school track star who is partnered with Theo Theodorakis.

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