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. How did Jessica Mitford refer to undertakers' work on human bodies?

2. At the time of Thomas Lynch's accident, how many years had his father been sober?

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

4. In what month did the Michigan undertakers conduct their conference?

5. Where in Florida did Lynch's father die?

Short Essay Questions

1. How was Lynch helped by stopping his drinking?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

Discuss the significance of Stephanie's tragic death. Recall that the name on the stone that killed her was the same as the one on the stone next to which she was buried. Was that significant? Was it merely chance or did it provide some insight into the role of faith and coincidence? Discuss the individual choices mentioned by Lynch (the hand of God, the devil did it, etc.). Are any of them satisfactory? Could all of them be right?

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'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?

(see the answer keys)

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