The Screwtape Letters

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The Screwtape Letters Letter XXIV Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Screwtape has been in contact with Slumtrinket, the devil in charge of the patient’s lover. Slumtrinket has found a weakness in the patient’s lover: like so many young women who grow up among intelligent people, she has disdain for those who do not share her beliefs, and calls them foolish and ridiculous. Although the patient’s lover sees her attitude toward those unlike herself as a projection of her faith, it is actually the result of her habits of mind.
As Lewis nears the end of his book, he proposes a major problem with being a Christian: believing that one is right and the entire world is wrong. This can’t help but create a sense of arrogance toward the world—Christopher Hitchens, a notable atheist, once accused Christianity of being “arrogance masquerading as humility.” It is a version of Hitchens’ critique that Lewis will try to refute.
Themes
Love Theme Icon
Screwtape explains how the new information about the patient’s lover can be used to influence the patient. He argues that young novices are always prone to exaggeration. Thus, if the patient spends enough time with his lover, then he will echo his lover’s vice in an exaggerated form. He will dislike and show disdain for those who do not accept Christianity.
While Lewis is writing about a specific problem that the patient has regarding exaggeration, this problem could also be said to apply to almost everyone. When we first accept a new fact, ideology, or religion, we have a tendency to embrace it too whole-heartedly, and therefore exaggerate its tenets.
Themes
Religion and Reason Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
Freedom, Will, and Sin Theme Icon
Fashion, Progress, and Change Theme Icon
Wormwood must convince the patient that his new friends and lover are “his people,” and that he has finally found a community for himself. This belief is useful to devils because it encourages the stranger to look down on those who are unlike him. Wormwood should make the patient laugh and sneer at atheists, and use phrases like “we Christians” as much as possible.
Lewis now reaches what can be a fundamental problem in Christianity: it is a religion based on a strong sense of community with a unique culture, and yet it is meant to offer universal salvation, available to anyone who wants it. As a result, Christians often face the charge of being too exclusive and “cliquey.” This exclusivity flies in the face of universal love, and so is to be avoided at all costs.
Themes
Religion and Reason Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
Freedom, Will, and Sin Theme Icon
Screwtape irritably tells Wormwood to stop mentioning the war in Europe in his letters. While he admits that the war is important to Satan, he also believes that it isn’t his concern—those who are lower in the lowerarchy should focus on such matters.
Wormwood is only a “junior tempter,” and so his only responsibility is trying to corrupt his own “patient.” Screwtape implies that more important devils do work like orchestrating wars and influencing cultural norms.
Themes
Proving Christianity True by Exploring Evil Theme Icon
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