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 Summary - The Westing Game Plot Diagram
Sixteen people are recruited to live in Sunset Towers, a new apartment building adjacent to the estate of the elderly millionaire Sam Westing. The new residents have little in common and keep to themselves as they deal with the various stresses of their lives.
Shortly after the residents move in, Sam Westing dies and the residents of Sunset Towers are called to a meeting. There, they learn that they have been named as potential heirs in Westing’s will. In order to win the inheritance, they must solve the mystery of his death. The will splits the residents into pairs, each of which receives four cryptic words as clues.
As the Westing heirs rush to solve the mystery, they begin to work together. The heirs learn about each other’s lives and form unlikely friendships. In the process, they discover the identity of Sunset Towers’ bookie, bomber, thief, and mistake.
J. R. Eastman
The heirs come together with Westing’s lawyer to submit their guesses for Westing’s murderer. When they learn they are all incorrect, they pool their clues and discover that the missing letters of America the Beautiful spell out Bertha Erica Crow. Crow turns herself over to the police just as Sandy McSouthers mysteriously drops dead. When the heirs review the strange events, they realize that Sandy was Westing himself.
Turtle leads the heirs in a review of Westing’s will in order to sort out its true meaning. During the review, Turtle alone realizes that Sandy is still alive and that the true quest is to seek Westing’s fourth identity. The rest of the heirs accept that they have lost the game. They receive shares in Sunset Towers and watch Westing’s estate go up in fireworks.
Turtle identifies Julian Eastman, the chairman of Westing Paper, as Westing’s fourth identity. She shows up at his address, greets Sandy/Westing, and wins the Westing empire. As the years progress, the residents of Sunset Towers pursue their dreams and find happiness. Turtle marries Theo and takes over Westing Paper.