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 constellation did Lynch refer to when describing peeing outdoors in Michigan?

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

3. What nationality was Paterson?

4. For approximately how long had Lynch been an undertaker when Chapter 2 opened?

5. Where did Nugent meet his next wife?

Short Essay Questions

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

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

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

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

5. Did Lynch profess to a certain fascination with dead bodies?

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

7. Why did the Lynch brothers take care of their father's body rather than allow a local undertaker to do the job?

8. How does Lynch view the work done by his colleague Wesley Rice with the young, murdered girl?

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

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

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

Discuss the assisted suicide doctor, Jack Kevorkian. Why were so many people willing to allow him to "assist" them in killing themselves? How does Lynch view the notion of providing someone with assistance in suicide? How did the general public react to Kevorkian and why was he not convicted? Is there an absolute value of life or can society reach an agreement about when people may choose to end theirs?

Essay Topic 2

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?

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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