The Westing Game Elements of Mystery

Updated: 5/16/2017
The Westing Game Elements of Mystery
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The Westing Game Lesson Plans

The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin

Lesson Plans by Bridget Baudinet

Ellen Raskin’s 1978 novel The Westing Game remains quite popular with today’s students. As the book’s characters race to inherit Westing’s estate by figuring out his murderer, students are swept up by the engaging mystery. Readers discover the clues along with the novel’s quirky characters, and are thus given an equal opportunity to solve the mystery themselves. This Newbery winner is a great way to introduce young readers to the mystery genre with plot structure, point of view, and the elements of mystery.

The Westing Game

Storyboard Description

The Westing Game Mystery Elements

Storyboard Text

  • The heir who finds the windfall will be the one who finds the ... FOURTH
  • "Whether disguised as Ben Franklin or a lowly drummer boy, he always acted a role..."
  • Although all the sixteen heirs are important to the story, Turtle takes on the role of protagonist. All the heirs attempt to win Westing’s game, but the novel focuses heavily on Turtle, the youngest and most endearing character. In the end, Turtle’s precocious wit enables her to solve the mystery that none of the adult heirs could decipher.
  • Westing provides his heirs (and the reader) with a variety of clues. The official clues that each pair receives are certainly important, but the most helpful clues might be in Westing’s newspaper obituary!
  • Westing
  • Northrup
  • McSouthers
  • Eastman
  • fruited, purple, waves, for, sea...
  • ?
  • Foreshadowing in the novel includes Westing's will, his obituary, and many comments from the omniscient narrator. From the very beginning, the smoke rising from the chimney of the Westing house is foreshadowing that the long-absent Westing will make an appearance in the lives of the Sunset Tower residents.
  • The lyrics to “America the Beautiful” and the missing letters spelling “Berthe Erica Crow” are all an elaborate red herring. This puzzle distracts from the real object of the Westing game, which is to identify Westing’s fourth identity. This red herring prevents the heirs from solving the mystery too quickly, providing them with the time to build relationships and improve their lives.