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. To what society club did Lynch belong?

2. What are people not allowed to do at the trestle known as the Arch?

3. When was the Oak Grove Bridge declared unsafe for vehicular traffic?

4. What was the look on the face of the man killed by the falling car?

5. What distinguishes coffins from caskets?

Short Essay Questions

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

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

3. Describe Matthew Sweeney's personality.

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

5. How does Lynch view a world in which certain deaths are acceptable (abortion, war, capital punishment)?

6. Describe Lynch's grandmothers.

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

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

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

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

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 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

Discuss the significance of Wesley Rice's work on the young girl who had been brutally murdered. How important was it that this work be done? Why did the mother insist on seeing her daughter one last time? How did Rice's "repair" work give the girl's body back to her family? Is the work done on corpses "barbaric," as Jessica Mitford claimed, or a kindness, as Lynch saw it? What kind of person does it take to do this kind of work?

(see the answer keys)

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