The Undertaking: Life Studies from the Dismal Trade Short Essay - Answer Key

Thomas Lynch
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1. Why do most people never pay attention to the figure Lynch called "The Big One"?

The Big One referred to the number of people who would be expected to die out of a hundred random people. Given that death is the inevitable (and unknowable) end of life, most people prefer to never think about it.

2. According to Lynch, why do people find it important to have bodies to bury?

Having a body to treat, look at, and bury is a comfort for the living, according to Lynch. Knowing is better than not knowing and people like to be reminded that they themselves are not yet dead.

3. Why did the priest insist on a simple funeral and burial service and why was Lynch unimpressed?

The priest felt that by having a simple funeral, he would provide the faithful with a perfect example of Christian humility and simplicity. Lynch was unimpressed, however, and suggested the priest show his humility by living a simple life here on earth. A dead saint is not worth very much.

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