The Westing Game

The Westing Game Literary Elements



Setting and Context

A Wisconsin town on Lake Michigan; the 1970s

Narrator and Point of View

The novel features a third-person omniscient narrator who has access to the actions and thoughts of the characters in the novel.

Tone and Mood

The tone is playful yet suspenseful, painting colorful characters in a bright light even against the somber backdrop of a murder mystery.

Protagonist and Antagonist

The protagonist is Turtle Wexler. The antagonist is originally thought to be the unknown murderer of Sam Westing, but truly there is no antagonist.

Major Conflict

The major conflicts are discovering who murdered Sam Westing and who will ultimately win his fortune.


The climax arrives when Turtle Wexler puts the inhabitants of Sunset Towers on trial and solves the mystery of the Westing Game.


The first chapter of the novel opens with a veiled piece of foreshadowing. When the narrator claims that Barney Northrup rented one apartment to the wrong person, he could be referring to Crow, who is truly Sam Westing's former wife, or Sydelle Pulaski, who was not connected to the Westings in any way. Sam Westing's cryptic will is also full of clues, including the cryptic warning that not everyone is who they claim to be.


Sandy refers to the bombs as gas explosions when they are in fact intentionally placed bombs.


The novel is full of allusions to classic Americana tropes, such as "America the Beautiful" and Uncle Sam. Everything Sam Westing does has an air of patriotism about it, hence why his will and clues are littered with so many allusions to patriotic icons.


The novel is full of imagery related to weather as the seasons pass around Sunset Towers. Raskin goes to great lengths to paint the environment around Sunset Towers: the crisp October night on lake Michigan and the way Sunset Tower is snowed in for weeks. The author also goes to great detail describing personal attributes, such as the crutches of Sydelle Pulaski or the garb of Judge J.J. Ford.


An example of paradox is when Sandy McSouthers is talking to Judge Ford about how poor his family is, when he is in fact Sam Westing in disguise and terribly rich.


There is a parallelism between the career of Sam Westing and T.R. Wexler; they both come from humble beginnings but through their drive and shrewdness ultimately become successful.

Metonymy and Synecdoche