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. Where did Nugent meet his next wife?

2. Besides funeral homes, what business did Lynch say persisted in using the family name in the business name?

3. What immigrant group did Lynch say has a fondness for funeral services?

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

5. How much did the signet ring cost?

Short Essay Questions

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

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

3. Why was Lynch's father fond of quoting Gladstone?

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

5. Why did the priest insist on a simple funeral and burial service and why was Lynch unimpressed?

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

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

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

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

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

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

Discuss Lynch's friend, Matthew Sweeney. What does his hypochondria say about his attitude toward life? Is he wasting or damaging his life in useless worrying? Or does his worrying simply indicate a deeper understanding of life and acceptance of the fact that death is inevitable? Does his hypochondria place limits on how he lives his life or does it free him to embrace with gusto the good aspects of life (such as fine food)?

Essay Topic 2

Lynch discussed the criticisms faced by his profession from various authors and the media. Were these criticisms justified? Is there something inherent in the field that makes it impossible for "customers" to get a fair deal? Does preplanning a funeral help avoid some of the more difficult issues? Why do people criticize the profession as a whole while insisting that they themselves had a positive experience in the past? How does Lynch defend his profession?

Essay Topic 3

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?

(see the answer keys)

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