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 did the signet ring cost?

2. In which state did the accident occur?

3. What kind of food did Lynch say many neighbors brought over after his divorce?

4. In what year was St. Stephen martyred?

5. What Friday night TV show did Lynch mention when discussing his generation's approach to death?

Short Essay Questions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

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?

Essay Topic 2

Lynch wanted to know the day he would die so he could recognize the midpoint when he arrived at it. Do you think it is possible to intuitively know the midpoint of your life? Why did Lynch pick that Halloween as his likely midpoint? What was is perspective on his life at that point? What would be the advantages to knowing the midpoint of your life? Would it affect how you viewed different periods of your life? is there actually an equilibrium that people automatically reach at midlife?

Essay Topic 3

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)?

(see the answer keys)

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