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 did Lynch's mother convince her husband to get their son Dan?

2. Which Lynch brother was sucker-punched in a bar fight?

3. To what state was Lynch flying when he first thought of a golfatorium?

4. What immigrant group did Lynch say has a fondness for funeral services?

5. What two retirement destinations did Lynch mention?

Short Essay Questions

1. Why did Lynch enjoy not having access to indoor plumbing when he first visited his cousins in Ireland?

2. Why do people feel the need to memorialize the dead?

3. What perspective did Lynch reach on the night his mother was buried?

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

5. How was Lynch helped by stopping his drinking?

6. How does Lynch describe people's different approaches to living life at the end of Chapter 8 and which approach did Sweeney take?

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

8. Why did authors such as Jessica Mitford attack the funeral industry?

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

10. What did Lynch lament about the modern homes Americans live in?

Essay Topics

Essay Topic 1

Lynch suggested that a priest interested in a simple funeral might have more of an effect on his parishioners if he lived a life of simplicity rather than wait until he was dead (and beyond caring). Why did Lynch say that a being a dead saint was not worthwhile? Would a simple funeral satisfy the needs of the living and would it convince people of the saintliness of the dead person? Or is it better to live a life of simplicity and then allow the living to do whatever they feel the need to do once you've died? Why did the priest seem shocked by Lynch's advice?

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

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?

(see the answer keys)

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