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 much would the laundry bill have come to for the work Milo did for Lynch?

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

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

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

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

Short Essay Questions

1. What kind of music did Lynch want at his funeral?

2. Describe Matthew Sweeney's personality.

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

4. How does Lynch view the current state of debate over abortion?

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

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

7. How did the funeral processions through town change when the Oak Grove bridge collapsed?

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

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

10. What lesson did Lynch want to teach Sweeney with his story of the man killed by the falling vehicle at the scrap metal yard?

Essay 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

In discussing the divorce of his friend, Henry Nugent, Lynch said divorced men in our society are seen as damaged goods. What did he mean by that? In what ways was the divorce easier on Nugent's ex-wife? How does divorce affect the father's relationship with the children? How did Lynch's divorce differ from many other American divorces?

Essay Topic 3

Discuss Uncle Eddie's suicide cleanup business (note: there are actual businesses that focus on cleaning up scenes of violent deaths, including suicides and murders). How did Eddie's business provide society with a valuable service? How did the cleanup after these deaths usually get done before such services? How is it an act of kindness for an outsider to clean up the scene so that loved ones do not have to see it? How does this relate to the general services provided by funeral parlors and undertakers?

(see the answer keys)

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