The Screwtape Letters Chapter 3: 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 the third letter of ''The Screwtape Letters'' by C.S. Lewis, Uncle Screwtape is delighted to hear about the tense and dysfunctional relationship between Wormwood's patient and his mother.


The third letter in The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis focuses on ways that Wormwood (the tempter) can capitalize on an already challenging relationship with his patient's mother. The patient is the human to which Wormwood was assigned by the Underworld. By following Uncle Screwtape's (Wormwood's uncle and mentor) advice, Wormwood will be able to keep the patient's newfound Christian values from soothing the family dysfunction.

The Screwtape Letters
Book Cover


How do you deal with your mother? Despite the patient's recent conversion, his thoughts and behavior have not yet conformed to the Enemy's (God) standards, making this an ideal time to exploit the tension that already exists between the patient and his mother. To make the most of this opportunity, Wormwood should collaborate with Glubose, who is the tempter in charge of the patient's mother. Working together will enable them to keep the mother and son equally exasperated with each other. Moving quickly is the key as the enemy 'may reach his behavior to the old lady at any moment.' Will God be able to repair this relationship before the Underworld tears it apart?


Time is of the essence! While the patient thinks that his conversion is about what is happening on the inside, Wormwood should expand on this expurgated, or censored, thought process in which the patient is blind to seeing himself objectively. As Screwtape has taught him before, the best way to prevent the patient from seeing things clearly is to play on his ego and keep him focused on himself. Self-absorption is a remarkable tool!

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