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. For what Irish patriot was the bridge in the chapter named?

2. What American TV show did Nora Lynch begin watching once she got her first television set?

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

4. In what year did Tommy Lynch die?

5. In what month did Roberton's poem appear in the magazine?

Short Essay Questions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

9. How did Lynch convey the sensuality of the preparation and eating of the artichoke?

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 and his brothers embalmed their father's body at his request. What was the significance of this act? Do you think it was painful or satisfying? Why did the father want his sons to do this? Why did the sons agree to it rather than hire another undertaker from outside the family? How did the father benefit from knowing that his sons would be there for him at his death? And how did the sons benefit from this act?

Essay Topic 2

In the first chapter, Lynch repeatedly states that "the dead don't care" and that only the living care what happens to the body. Why are the dead valuable to the living? Why do the living feel the need to have ceremonies and other ways to recognize someone who no longer cares? In what ways are funeral services really for the living? Would it really matter what we do with the dead?

Essay Topic 3

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?

(see the answer keys)

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