Mark Reads ‘The Westing Game’: Chapters 7 / 8

In the seventh and eighth chapters of The Westing Game, I find out what the title means, and then I propose a theory, and I’M SO SCARED I AM DEEPLY WRONG. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read The Westing Game.

Chapter Seven: The Westing Game / Chapter Eight: The Paired Heirs

I can already see the challenge I’m going to have writing about this book. I mean, there’s so much character development and plot stuffed into these chapters, but I’m also clearly meant to try and figure out what the fuck is going on. And I think it’ll be fun if I consider myself an unofficial seventeenth heir and try to piece this all together. Of course, I’m doing so under the gaze of y’all, so that means I’m more brutally unprepared than ever before, so AWESOME. Anyway, I think I want to talk about the book itself before I attempt to sort out all the clues I just got. LET’S DO IT.

  • Grace, think about what the word “position” can also mean aside from “job” or “occupation.” Also: I hate you.
  • I really hope that Flora doesn’t have some ulterior motive for being happy about having Turtle as a pair because I really want Turtle to have someone who’s on her side.
  • I’m also relieved that Raskin has made Chris into a character who gets his own agency and thoughts and isn’t someone that the other characters just get to project onto.
  • UGH I JUST LOVE J.J. FORD SO MUCH. That line about not being a token? Lord, y’all, that hit SO HARD. That was such a huge part of my college experience because so many people I met there were convinced that I was let into that school because I was Latino or because I was gay. It never occurred to them that I’d actually worked my ass off to get into school. Being thought of as a token SUCKS.
  • Why is Grace convinced that Mr. Hoo’s son is “obedient”? First of all, he’s clearly not. Second… oh. She’s a BIGOT.
  • I also think James Hoo isn’t the murderer. His motive is too obvious, and Occam’s Razor rarely works in these kind of mysteries.
  • Who the fuck is Doug playing chess against? There’s that bit later about Sam Westing being a chess fan, so clearly someone else knew that Westing loved chess. But who knows him that well? Crow, J.J. Ford, maybe Mr. Hoo?
  • Sydelle Pulaski seriously creeps me out. Her whole thing about wanting attention went from being sad to unbearably unsettling.
  • While Angela certainly has problems of her own, I thought it was neat that she proved to be a clever player for the game. People are not what they seem!
  • “Words did hurt, but she was no longer a child.” AMEN, J.J. FORD. LET’S BE BEST FRIENDS FOREVER. Oh god, what if she’s the murderer? Damn it, I DON’T LIKE HOW HARD THIS IS.
  • So what the hell happened between J.J. Ford and Sam Westing? Why is she so convinced that he was an awful person?
  • A lot of The Westing Game up to this point has been character portraits and the complicated set-up to the game. That’s why I love the transition from chapter seven to chapter eight. We go from a lot of (very necessary!) exposition to the entirety of Sunset Towers stuck in the building during a massive snowstorm. Raskin, YOU’RE A GENIUS. In this short span of time, we go from Clue-esque murder mystery to CLOSED-ROOM CLAUSTROPHOBIA. And it’s so fascinating to watch how these characters either turn on one another, or they decide to pair up.
  • Or, in the case of Turtle, some of them figure out they can make a ton of money from the ensuing power outage. BLESS HER HEART FOREVER.
  • “No one gave thought to where Otis Amber or Crow might be.” UGH. And they’re both characters who have some weird reason for being a part of all of this. STOP TEASING ME.
  • I really, really don’t like Sydelle at all, and her appropriation of a disability is just so horribly gross! I mean, the text isn’t making her out to be a hero or anything, which is refreshing, and even Angela silently condemns her for treating Chris Theodorakis so terribly, too.
  • So, if you didn’t watch the first video for chapter eight, I’ll repeat myself here. As Turtle and Flora tried to figure out what the clues were for and then became convinced it had to do with the stock market, it all reminded me of all the theorizing that went on in the LOST fandom and how desperate most of us were to put the varied pieces together. Yeah, there was some weird shit out there (ANYONE REMEMBER THAT ABSOLUTELY UNREAL THEORY ABOUT THE TWO PLANETS??? I can’t find it on Google anymore, but it was incredible and clearly wrong and INCREDIBLE), but it was so much fun, especially when someone unearthed some obscure reference and saw how it actually affected the show.
  • This is yet another good time to brag about the fact that I once asked Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse a question about LOST at Comic-Con in 2008 and they purposely didn’t answer it because I WAS LITERALLY PREPARED FOR THE ACTUAL POINT OF THE SHOW. I can’t find the video right now (I HATE YOU TUMBLR SEARCH), but I asked them nobhg Wrerzl Oragunz. Oragunz jnf snzbhf sbe gur Cnabcgvpba, n cevfba va juvpu nyy gur crbcyr pbhyq or jngpurq ng nal gvzr jvgubhg rire xabjvat gung gurl’er orvat jngpurq. Fb V nfxrq gurz vs gur crbcyr ba gur vfynaq jrer orvat jngpurq ol fbzrbar naq vs gurl jbhyq svaq bhg. BU ZL TBQ V CERQVPGRQ WNPBO/ZNA VA OYNPX.
  • I just miss LOST a lot.
  • I do not miss Grace Windsor Wexler, who is SO UNENDINGLY RACIST in this chapter. And it’s called out by Mr. Hoo!!!! Which is SO GREAT.
  • I mean, it’s so fascinating to me that the Judge is the only character to reverse the suspicion here! She’s the only one who believes that Westing is in the wrong!
  • If Angela and Sydelle had not been together the entire time, I would have suspected Angela as the thief of the shorthand notebook because she’s been stealing people’s stuff all day. So many mysteries!

Now, about those mysteries. In the video for chapter eight, I proposed a theory as to what these words were clues for. Let me list what words we know to be clues:


Look, I am even more certain of my theory once I stick those all words together. THEY’RE FROM “AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL.” What other thing has all those words in common? For real, LOOK AT THIS SHIT (clues are bolded):

O beautiful for spacious skies

For amber waves of grain,

For purple mountain majesties

Above the fruited plain!

America! America!

God shed his grace on thee

And crown thy good with brotherhood

From sea to shining sea!

(And for the record, the only reason this song was even on my mind was because of Coca-Cola’s ad during the Superbowl, which bigots just like Grace Windsor Wexler hated with a passion.)

It fits along with all of the stuff in the will about America and its value to Westing. However, I’m still missing a lot of words, and I don’t know how far this might stretch. There are like… four full stanzas? And if every pair gets four words, that’s 32 words, but there are 37 words in the first stanza of the song? UGH OKAY MAYBE THIS ISN’T A GOOD PLAN. There are a few glaring problems with this:

  • Why is “brotherhood” split up?
  • There’s no “am” at all in this, unless we’re counting the beginning of “America”???
  • Why the sole “N” as a clue???
  • The use of “king” and “queen” appears to be a red herring, because they’re not in the full poem/song, either.
  • IT STILL DOESN’T MAKE ANY SENSE. What is this telling me? Even the words left out don’t make a complete sentence. Plus, we’re missing some clues, aren’t we? What are Madame Hoo’s and Dr. Wexler’s clues?

This is cruel. Why am I doing this?

Please note that the original text/videos contain uses of the words “invalid,” “cripple,” “gimp,” “mad,” and “insane.”

Chapter 7

Chapter 8, Part 1

Chapter 8, Part 2

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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