Continuing with my 1970s reread jag, I spent most of my day off this week with The Westing Game. Spoilers ahead.
- I admire intricate plots and puzzles… and I’m not very good at them. There’s a reason I keep reading Howl’s Moving Castle over and over. This was the first time through Westing Game that I felt like I got almost all of what was going on. That Crow was seeing Angela and Theo as another iteration of her daughter and Theo’s father. That Otis Amber was listed in the phone book as a PI under his own name.
- Sam Westing is a despicable man. He executes the game to punish Crow, using her as a sacrificial queen in his search for someone smart enough to be his heir– Turtle, as it turns out. He has monitored his ex-wife for years and years via private investigator, and is fine with her wrongful arrest for homicide. Not cool. Never addressed. Sorry, Chris, Mr. Westing was not a good man.
- Crow’s hair is red-blonde. I always pictured her with black hair, very goth and severe with her white skin. Probably because of her name.
- The last chapter made me laugh. Doug Hoo has to be an Olympic medalist! Judge Ford has to get to the U.S. Supreme Court! Turtle has to make millions and millions! Somewhat more disturbingly, she marries Theo just like Violet should have married Theo’s father. Such a relief that someone (Chris) gets a partner who wasn’t involved in the game at all.
- I think the book’s most egregious fault is its treatment of Mrs. Hoo. Raskin reports her thoughts and opinions as though they are as simple as the English she has only recently started to learn. The effect is sooo racist.
- The $10,000 that each player received would be just over $38,000 in 2016 dollars. Harvard and Radcliffe charged $1,250 per year for undergraduate tuition in 1958, so maybe $10k is realistic for Judge Ford’s education, especially if it’s not adjusted for inflation between her student years and the book’s setting (assuming it’s more or less contemporary with the 1978 publication date).
Lots of cool stuff about the manuscript, process, and design of the book here. I first read a hardback library book, but now I have an Avon-Camelot paperback and so miss out on some of the design details.
2 thoughts on “Rereading The Westing Game”
Oh God, yeah, Mrs. Hoo has not aged well as a character, has she? I’m super glad you flagged that. I’m going to definitely bring that up when I recommend The Westing Game to people in the future. It’s good but it is of its time.
I wish her thoughts were presented better, because in other ways I really enjoy her partnership with Jake Wexler– they’re the two players who really, really don’t give a hoot about the Westing Game! :D
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