The Undertaking: Life Studies from the Dismal Trade Test | Final 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. In what year did Jack Kevorkian assist in his first suicide?

2. What kind of car did the two teachers commit suicide in?

3. If he was cremated, where did Reader want his ashes scattered?

4. In what year was Matthew Sweeney born?

5. How many days was Reader waked?

Short Essay Questions

1. What did Lynch see as the advantage of being at the midpoint of one's life?

2. Why did Lynch suggest February as a good month for his death and burial?

3. What did Lynch want from his funeral, when all was said and done?

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

5. Describe Lynch's grandmothers.

6. How did Lynch react to the body of the young man who shot himself in Chapter 9?

7. What kind of music did Lynch want at his funeral?

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

9. What did Lynch mean when he said that "in even the best of caskets, it never all fits"?

10. Describe Matthew Sweeney's personality.

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

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 2

Houses used to be the location of many of life's most significant occurrences (birth, courtship, marriage, death and funeral preparation). Today, many American homes have rooms that are rarely used (living rooms) and rooms that appear to be nothing more than trophies (huge kitchens in homes where eating out is the norm). How has this change affected society? How has it affected the ability of families to remain close to one another? Are there any benefits to this arrangement? How has isolating key aspects of life from one another affected us?

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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