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. What poet is quoted at the beginning of "Tract"?

2. What did Lynch want his family to toss on top of his casket?

3. What "coupons" did Lynch give to his family in "The Tract"?

4. How many assisted suicides are cremated?

5. If he is cremated, what does Lynch want done with the ashes?

Short Essay Questions

1. How do Lynch and his wife differ in their views of Milford as they walk through town in Chapter 7?

2. What characteristic of "successful" suicides did Lynch say he admired?

3. How did the funeral processions through town change when the Oak Grove bridge collapsed?

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

5. How did Lynch feel about the prospect of his loved ones feeling guilt at his funeral?

6. What statement does a casket, versus a simple coffin, make?

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

8. How do most people view undertakers, according to Lynch?

9. How does Lynch view the current state of debate over abortion?

10. Why have more and more Americans opted for cremation, according to Lynch?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

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 2

Discuss the significance of the rebuilding of the Oak Grove bridge. Why was Mary Jackson so determined to have her funeral procession take the traditional route across the bridge to the cemetery? What sentiments did Lynch express in his poem for the dedication? How is a town affected by its proximity to the dead and its willingness to acknowledge, rather than hide, the dead? How were the older funeral processions (past houses rather than businesses) superior to the ones after the bridge collapsed? Why is it important that the dead be remembered?

Essay Topic 3

Lynch discussed how society has accepted certain deaths in the names of choice, justice, and God. How does this willingness to accept the end of life in some cases affect society as a whole? How does a society determine where to draw the line? How does this attitude affect attitudes toward life itself? Why do people who accept some death choices utterly reject others? Is Lynch right when he states that primitive humans had a more civilized attitude toward life and death?

(see the answer keys)

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