How does Lyddie react to seeing a factory girl for the first time in Lyddie?
Lyddie is impressed with the factory girl in Lyddie.
When Lyddie is working at Cutler’s Tavern, she meets a factory worker for the first time. She is very impressed by the girl because she happens to be wearing a pink silk dress, which attracts her attention.
Lyddie couldn't be sure, never having seen a real silk dress before, but it was smooth and pink like a baby's cheek. Around her shoulders the lady wore a shawl woven in a deeper shade of pink. Lyddie marveled that the woman would wear something so delicate for a ride to the northland in a dusty coach. (Ch. 3)
Although the mistress accuses her of “putting on fancy airs,” Lyddie is impressed with the factory girl. When she talks to her, she is told that she can make two dollars a week in a factory and the work is easier than what she is doing at the tavern, but she is convinced that the girl is lying. She does have the silk dress to show for it, and Lyddie begins to wonder about factory work as a way out.
Lyddie tells the girl that she has been promised by her mother to the tavern. She feels somewhat trapped. The siren song of the factory looms. The girl said she could have more independence there than working at the tavern.
Lyddie gets fired for leaving without permission, however, and decides to try her luck as a factory girl. She wants to be able to get more and be more.
"I'm going to be a factory girl, Triphena."
"I'm free. She's set me free. I can do anything I want. I can go to Lowell and make real money to pay off the debt so I can go home." (Chapter 6)
Lyddie does go to the factory, and although it is not the promised land she expected, at least she is free. In some ways, she is going from one kind of slavery to another, though. Work at the factory is dangerous. A cotton mill is hazardous to one's health and also hard work, with long hours and heavy machinery.
However, Lyddie is very good at the job. She worries about accidents and workers organizing, but she also values the level of skill she acquires.
Lyddie is a girl who always longs to be more than she is. Never satisfied with her situation, she is comfortable taking risks and fighting for herself. She is symbolic of the many factory girls who struggled their way through the nineteenth century and powered the Industrial Revolution.