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. To what did Nugent's poem refer?

2. What nationality was Paterson?

3. To what fast food restaurant did Lynch refer when talking about non-custodial parents?

4. On what holy day did Lynch land in Ireland when Nora became sick?

5. In what year was Lynch's Michigan house built?

Short Essay Questions

1. What were the different ways in which loved ones reacted to being asked to collect the ashes of the deceased?

2. How did Lynch "resolve" his feelings about the existence of God?

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

4. How did Lynch describe the difference between chance and coincidence?

5. According to Lynch, why do people find it important to have bodies to bury?

6. If the dead don't care, why did Lynch get up in the middle of the night to tend to the newly deceased?

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

8. How does society generally view cemeteries, according to Lynch?

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

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

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

Lynch described the toilet as an invention that was essential in robbing us of our ability to deal directly with the less savory aspects of life, including the eventuality of death for us all. Do you agree with this? Does the fact that we no longer have to deal in an intimate manner with our life cycle make it more difficult to deal with that cycle? Has death become something we are embarrassed by? If so, how does that affect our attitude toward the dead?

Essay Topic 2

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 3

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?

(see the answer keys)

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