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 brand of vehicle did Lynch refer to when discussing the power of advertising?

2. What poet made the statement about men dying for what they miss in poetry?

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

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

5. Where did Nugent meet his next wife?

Short Essay Questions

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

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

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

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

5. How does Lynch view the work done by his colleague Wesley Rice with the young, murdered girl?

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

7. When and why did the regular practice of embalming begin?

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

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

10. If the dead don't care, why did Lynch get up in the middle of the night to tend to the newly deceased?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

Lynch quotes Gladstone as stating that he could tell how a people respected the laws of the land by how they treated their dead. Do you agree with this? What does the way in which society treats its dead say about that society? Does it go beyond simply obeying laws? How does a society's way of "caring" for the dead reflect its attitude toward life? How do you think modern American society treats its dead and how does this reflect our overall society?

Essay Topic 2

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?

Essay Topic 3

Discuss the assisted suicide doctor, Jack Kevorkian. Why were so many people willing to allow him to "assist" them in killing themselves? How does Lynch view the notion of providing someone with assistance in suicide? How did the general public react to Kevorkian and why was he not convicted? Is there an absolute value of life or can society reach an agreement about when people may choose to end theirs?

(see the answer keys)

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