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 nationality was Paterson?

2. What Asian city did Lynch mention as a place where funeral pyres are frequent?

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

4. To what did Nugent's poem refer?

5. From what surgery did Mr. Lynch have a scar?

Short Essay Questions

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

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

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

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

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

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

7. Of all the choices offered by Lynch to explain Stephanie's death, which one seemed to be the one he would choose?

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

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

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

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

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 2

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 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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