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 was the name of the undertaker who repaired the face of the murdered girl in Chapter 5?

2. How much did the signet ring cost?

3. Approximately how many of his townspeople did Lynch bury each year?

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

5. What did Lynch suggest could be the introductory price of a grave site at the golfatorium?

Short Essay Questions

1. How did Lynch "resolve" his feelings about the existence of God?

2. What are the unique problems faced by undertakers trying to "advertise" their services?

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

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

5. Why did the undertakers at the conference seem intent of developing new language to explain what they did for a living?

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

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

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

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

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

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following 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

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?

(see the answer keys)

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