The Screwtape Letters Chapter 10: Summary & Quotes

Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

In chapter ten of The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis, Wormwood's patient has some new friends that are just the sort of people to help his cause. Read on to find Screwtape's advice for making the most of this opportunity.

The Patient Gets New Friends

Wormwood is a first-time tempter for the Underworld who needs guidance to find the most devious methods to win souls for Hell. In the tenth chapter of The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis, Screwtape (Wormwood's mentor) is pleased to hear that Wormwood's patient has a new set of friends. If Wormwood plays his cards right, this is exactly what he needs to seal his patient's fate. What can Wormwood do to encourage these new associations?

The Screwtape Letters
Book Cover

Why the New Friends Are Perfect

What kind of friends would Satan want for a human? According to Screwtape, the patient has made some good choices. The patient's new friends 'are just the sort of people we want him to know - rich, smart, superficially intellectual, and brightly skeptical about everything in the world.'

With the superior air that this new social group projects, the mortal will have a difficult time admitting that his own faith conflicts with their ideas. Because his non-verbal cues imply his agreement, it will never occur to them that he believes otherwise. 'He will be silent when he ought to speak and laugh when he ought to be silent.' Eventually, the patient will become who he pretends to be.

Preventing the Realization of the Bad Influence

What would happen if the patient realized the effect his friends were having on his religion? Hiding the recognition of the influence these new friends have on the patient for as long as possible is the best plan for Wormwood. Christianity still provides many warnings about mammon, the corrupting influence of wealth, but shies away from addressing how patrons choose to spend their time and who they spend their time with. Eventually, the patient will become aware of the negative effect his friends have on him and Wormwood will have to change his tactics.

Keeping the Patient's New Friends Around

Wormwood's next move will depend on how smart his patient is. If he is of low intelligence, Wormwood can limit the patient's awareness of the nature of these friends to moments when they are not together. Once they are in the same room, the patient will be consumed by them to the point that he will forget their shortcomings.

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