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

2. To what state did the Nugents move after marrying?

3. Out of a thousand people in a room, how many would be expected to die by the end of the year according to Lynch's analogy in Chapter 1?

4. What did Lynch's father see in every bruise on his children?

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

Short Essay Questions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

8. What was Nora's reaction to her impending death?

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

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

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

Discuss the significance of the rebuilding of the Oak Grove bridge. Why was Mary Jackson so determined to have her funeral procession take the traditional route across the bridge to the cemetery? What sentiments did Lynch express in his poem for the dedication? How is a town affected by its proximity to the dead and its willingness to acknowledge, rather than hide, the dead? How were the older funeral processions (past houses rather than businesses) superior to the ones after the bridge collapsed? Why is it important that the dead be remembered?

Essay Topic 2

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?

Essay Topic 3

Discuss the feasibility of the "golfatorium" envisioned by Lynch. Would Americans accept such a concept? How would it fit into the general American attitude that cemeteries are a waste of land because they don't serve the living? How would it fit into the American concept of one-stop shopping for services? Would it be possible to maintain a sense of respect and dignity for the dead at a golf course?

(see the answer keys)

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