The Screwtape Letters Chapter 2: 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 two of 'The Screwtape Letters' by C.S. Lewis, Wormwood has failed at keeping his patient from becoming a Christian. Screwtape's disappointment is unmistakable, but hope still lingers.


At this point in the story, Wormwood, a novice tempter for Hell, is being instructed by his Uncle Screwtape about the intricacies of winning souls. Wormwood has been assigned his first patient who will receive individualized attention from Wormwood for the duration of his life in hopes that by the end, the patient will have moved away from the Enemy (God) and closer to the Underworld. Wormwood's patient has become a Christian, but all is not lost. If he follows his uncle's instructions in the second letter of The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis, Wormwood may be able to recover from his fumble. Will the patient's displeasure with the church allow Wormwood to reclaim him for Satan? Let's find out.

The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis
Book Cover


In letter two, Uncle Screwtape reminds Wormwood that he will be punished if he does not produce results. Wormwood's best hope for reclaiming his patient and escaping punishment is to play on the disappointment in the local church that new Christians often experience. Bad music, confusing texts, and an imperfect congregation weigh on the patient. He is unsure what he expected, but this is not it. As Uncle Screwtape states, 'provided that any of those neighbors sing out of tune, have boots that squeak, or double chins, or odd clothes, the patient will quite easily believe that their religion must therefore be somehow ridiculous.' Screwtape assures Wormwood that the patient's misguided expectations of fellow churchgoers will lead him back to Wormwood. This is because at this stage the patient 'has an idea of ''Christians'' in his mind which he supposes to be spiritual but which, in fact, is largely pictorial'.

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