The Undertaking: Life Studies from the Dismal Trade Test | Mid-Book Test - Hard

Thomas Lynch
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This test consists of 5 short answer questions, 10 short essay questions, and 1 (of 3) essay topics.

Short Answer Questions

1. How old was Nugent's second wife when they married?

2. How old were the twins who drowned in the river?

3. In what month did the Michigan undertakers conduct their conference?

4. What kind of church did Milo belong to?

5. What French writer did Lynch quote at the beginning of Chapter 3?

Short Essay Questions

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

2. Of all the choices offered by Lynch to explain Stephanie's death, which one seemed to be the one he would choose?

3. When and why did the regular practice of embalming begin?

4. What did Lynch lament about the modern homes Americans live in?

5. Why did Nugent have several relationships following his divorce and did they help him find love?

6. How did Lynch's mother and father differ in their reactions to the normal "threats" of childhood?

7. How did Lynch try to maintain some of the old traditions after he fixed up the Irish cottage when Nora passed away?

8. How does society generally view cemeteries, according to Lynch?

9. How did Lynch "resolve" his feelings about the existence of God?

10. How did Lynch describe the difference between chance and coincidence?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

Lynch discussed how society has accepted certain deaths in the names of choice, justice, and God. How does this willingness to accept the end of life in some cases affect society as a whole? How does a society determine where to draw the line? How does this attitude affect attitudes toward life itself? Why do people who accept some death choices utterly reject others? Is Lynch right when he states that primitive humans had a more civilized attitude toward life and death?

Essay Topic 2

Lynch's parents were fundamentally different when it came to raising the kids. His father was obsessed about potential dangers and would have placed a short leash on all of them if possible. His mother left her worries to God. How did those two ways of child rearing affect the kids? Given the parents' beliefs and life experiences, would it have been possible for either one to act differently? Could there have been a happy medium between the two extremes or was that impossible? Did the two approaches complement one another or interfere with one another?

Essay Topic 3

Discuss the significance of Wesley Rice's work on the young girl who had been brutally murdered. How important was it that this work be done? Why did the mother insist on seeing her daughter one last time? How did Rice's "repair" work give the girl's body back to her family? Is the work done on corpses "barbaric," as Jessica Mitford claimed, or a kindness, as Lynch saw it? What kind of person does it take to do this kind of work?

(see the answer keys)

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