The game of chess is a consistent motif in The Westing Game. Chess is a game that requires forward thinking and planning, much like the actual game Sam Westing plotted. In order to play chess successfully, one has to always be one step ahead of one's opponent, and only the player best able to predict Sam Westing's game (Turtle) is able to succeed. She ends up teaching her niece chess, just like her uncle taught her.
The Bombs (Symbol)
The bombs are a symbol for the pent-up rage and unhappiness Angela feels at constantly being coddled and infantilized by her family and neighbors for her looks and her engagement to Denton. Her decision to take agency and put her own beauty in harm's way in order to feel more empowered explodes in her face, just like the bombs.
Turtle's Braid (Symbol)
Turtle is intelligent but is constantly made to feel that she takes a backseat to Angela in both her looks and the attention she gets from her mother. The braid she wears symbolizes a way for her to get attention, even if it's eventually negative (and she gives someone a good sharp kick in the shins). Eventually when the firework singes off her braid, it allows her to come into her own without her security blanket.
A motif of this novel lies in the diversity of its cast. Not only do we have Americans of different races like J.J. Ford and Mr. Hoo, we have recent immigrants to the country such as Mrs. Hoo, who each become more and more a part of the American fabric throughout the story. We also have diversity in age, from old Crow to young Turtle, and health, from disabled Chris and "wasting" Sydelle.
The seasons play a large motif in the novel and affect the mood and journey of the characters. Turtle first discovers old Sam Westing's body on a spooky Halloween evening, then the novel takes off in the fall. As the characters get paired up, the winter comes and the snow locks them inside together to get to know one another. Ultimately when spring comes, the mysteries have been solved and the tenants of Sunset Towers emerge as closer friends.
The Westing Game Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for The Westing Game is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.