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. At what time did Mil Hornsby's wife call to announce his death?

2. In what year was Lynch's Michigan house built?

3. What ancient human ancestor did Lynch say first buried the dead?

4. Why do undertakers massage the body?

5. What food was Robertson's poem about?

Short Essay Questions

1. What are the dangers of viewing the dead as an "embarrassment?"

2. How did Lynch feel about constantly taking Nugent's phone calls following the divorce?

3. What did Lynch mean by "the poor cousin of fear is rage?"

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

5. Why did the undertakers at the conference seem intent of developing new language to explain what they did for a living?

6. What did Lynch mean when he stated that "one hand washes the other" in Chapter 1?

7. In what fundamental ways did the flush toilet change human civilization?

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

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

10. How was Lynch helped by stopping his drinking?

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

Although he acknowledges that once he is dead, his opinion will not matter, Lynch provides a blueprint for his own funeral. Discuss the significance of the various aspects of the funeral as described in the last chapter. What is the significance of the time of year? the weather? the preferred services? the desire to have people remain at the graveside until the casket is lowered? What is the ultimate desire of Lynch for his funeral?

Essay Topic 3

In the first chapter, Lynch repeatedly states that "the dead don't care" and that only the living care what happens to the body. Why are the dead valuable to the living? Why do the living feel the need to have ceremonies and other ways to recognize someone who no longer cares? In what ways are funeral services really for the living? Would it really matter what we do with the dead?

(see the answer keys)

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