Study Guide

The Sting Criminality


In a movie about charming conmen, it's sometimes easy to forget the fact that everyone we love in The Sting is a hardened criminal.

The thing that makes us like them, though, is the fact that the antagonist they're trying to defeat is a much worse criminal than any of them will ever be. Yes, they steal a lot of money (mostly from rich people). But Doyle Lonnegan is a vicious mobster who has people killed just for looking at him the wrong way.

Questions About Criminality

  1. How is the criminality of Henry and Johnny different from that of Lonnegan?
  2. Why does Luther want to get out of the grifting game and what does he plan on doing after he's out?
  3. Why is criminality so acceptable in this movie? What does the movie do to make us forget that our heroes are constantly breaking the law?
  4. How does the movie blend the world of law enforcement with the world of criminal activity? (We're thinking specifically of Lt. Snyder's character here.)

Chew on This

In The Sting, we realize that we're willing to look the other way on almost any criminal activity if it's being used against someone who's perpetrating even worse crimes.

The Sting shows us that no matter how you slice it, criminals are still criminals and it's immoral to root for them.

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