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. What disease did Lynch's father have outbreaks of?

2. In what year did Tommy Lynch die?

3. How old was Thomas Lynch's oldest child when he divorced?

4. In what town's hospital was Nora treated?

5. What kind of food made Lynch and Patterson sick in Ireland?

Short Essay Questions

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

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

3. How was Lynch helped by stopping his drinking?

4. In what fundamental ways did the flush toilet change human civilization?

5. Why was Henry Nugent unable to get relief from his heartbreak following his divorce?

6. What did Lynch mean by "the poor cousin of fear is rage?"

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

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

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

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

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

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?

Essay Topic 2

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 3

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?

(see the answer keys)

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