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. What two retirement destinations did Lynch mention?

2. What did Lynch's mother convince her husband to get their son Dan?

3. What did Lynch hope to do if he attended any part of the undertakers conference?

4. Which sibling took too many pills and almost overdosed?

5. How many years had Nugent's first marriage lasted?

Short Essay Questions

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

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

3. What did Lynch consider the mark of a good faith leader?

4. What was Nora's reaction to her impending death?

5. What is the essential difference between burying the old and burying infants?

6. If the dead don't care, why did Lynch get up in the middle of the night to tend to the newly deceased?

7. How did Lynch handle being a father while serving as an undertaker and seeing dead children?

8. Why did Lynch say some cultural groups (immigrant Irish, Diaspora Jews, African-Americans) actually"enjoy" funerals?

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

10. Why did Lynch enjoy not having access to indoor plumbing when he first visited his cousins in Ireland?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

In discussing the divorce of his friend, Henry Nugent, Lynch said divorced men in our society are seen as damaged goods. What did he mean by that? In what ways was the divorce easier on Nugent's ex-wife? How does divorce affect the father's relationship with the children? How did Lynch's divorce differ from many other American divorces?

Essay Topic 2

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?

Essay Topic 3

Lynch wanted to know the day he would die so he could recognize the midpoint when he arrived at it. Do you think it is possible to intuitively know the midpoint of your life? Why did Lynch pick that Halloween as his likely midpoint? What was is perspective on his life at that point? What would be the advantages to knowing the midpoint of your life? Would it affect how you viewed different periods of your life? is there actually an equilibrium that people automatically reach at midlife?

(see the answer keys)

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