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

2. What kind of service did the Irish priest who married Lynch say he wanted?

3. In what state did Nugent teach in college when he met his wife?

4. When did embalming become common?

5. Where did Nugent meet his next wife?

Short Essay Questions

1. What are the unique problems faced by undertakers trying to "advertise" their services?

2. What was Lynch's view of the notion that the corpse is just an empty shell?

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

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

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

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

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

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

9. What were the different ways in which loved ones reacted to being asked to collect the ashes of the deceased?

10. How did the modern amenities (toilet, television, etc.) change life in the old Irish cottage?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

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 2

Lynch and his brothers embalmed their father's body at his request. What was the significance of this act? Do you think it was painful or satisfying? Why did the father want his sons to do this? Why did the sons agree to it rather than hire another undertaker from outside the family? How did the father benefit from knowing that his sons would be there for him at his death? And how did the sons benefit from this act?

Essay Topic 3

Discuss the feasibility of the "golfatorium" envisioned by Lynch. Would Americans accept such a concept? How would it fit into the general American attitude that cemeteries are a waste of land because they don't serve the living? How would it fit into the American concept of one-stop shopping for services? Would it be possible to maintain a sense of respect and dignity for the dead at a golf course?

(see the answer keys)

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