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Produced in 2000, The Nine Queens is an Argentinian
crime drama that tells the story of two swindlers who must work together to
achieve a common goal.  The main
characters, Juan and Marcos are two small-time swindlers who meet at a
convenience store and team up to work on a half a million-dollar deal.  The duplicity in the plot and the inherent
deception mounts progressively thus making it difficult to differentiate the
swindler from the victim.  Correspondingly, La Vida de Lazarillo de
Tormes, a 1554 Spanish literary masterpiece tells the story of Lazarillo de
Tormes who must survive through wit and deception.  The characters in both stories are swindlers
and ideal products of their respective societies.  Both stories reveal how society shapes
personal attitudes and behaviors thereby justifying criminal acts.

The society drives the characters in both the
novel and the film to become deceitful.  The
Nine Queens shows a time where insecurity, unemployment, and corruption are
prevalent in Argentina and thereby pushes a significant number of people into crime
and malicious trickery.  Juan needs to
help his father by bribing a judge to reduce his prison sentence from ten years
to six months.  The criminal justice
system is so corrupt that bribery influences the outcome of a case.   At 15:34, Juan explains his predicament, his
father was serving a prison sentence that he hopped to shorten by bribing a
judge, “no, it is my father. I am gathering money for him.”  The
corrupt society justifies the crime driven nature of the characters since the
theft and corruption entrenched in the legal system is yet a manifestation of a
morally corrupt society.  Juan is swindling money not for his personal
gain but to help his father, which indicates a type of selflessness in his
character.

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Lazarillo, on the other hand, lives in a
discriminative society.  Born into
poverty, his fate appears sealed that he must live as a low caste member of
society.  Sent to live with a beggar, Lazarillo
acquires a cynical view of the world and learns that tricks, lies, and wit are
his only way to reach success and greatness.  “While this was going on, the remembrance of a
singular want of wit and keenness occurred to me, which not only betrayed my
incapacity, but a cowardly and groveling fear, for which I could not easily
forgive myself” (p. 22). His surroundings offer him minimal opportunity
for social advancement as he struggles to find food among other basic needs. The young Lazarillo struggles to find food
among other basic needs. In such a society, conning becomes a
justifiable evil that enables him to rise through the social ranks of his
society. Eventually,
he attains a high social status through marriage and has hopes of raising a
family.

The two works reveal an intense case of moral
ambiguity where the characters actions are morally questionable but at the same
time justified in back drop of the society they find themselves living in.  In the film, Juan develops an elaborate plan
of swindling other members of the society to help raise the money necessary to
bribe a judge.  Marcos also goes along
with the plan to help Juan and in the process cons him as a way to teach him a
lesson against conning other members of the society.  Likewise, Lazarillo uses his wit and deception
to survive in a morally corrupt society in which people behave immorally but
regard themselves morally superior to others.

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