In Lyddie, how was Betsy's brother selfish?

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Betsy’s brother was selfish because she put him through college and he barely paid any attention to her.

Betsy works at the factory, but most of her money goes to her brother.  Her brother is attending Harvard, and Betsy is paying his way. Unlike the close relationship Lyddie has with her brother, Betsy and her brother do not seem close and do not really get along.  You would think he would be grateful to her for all she does for him, but he barely acknowledges her existence.

Betsy wants to go to college, but all of her money is going to pay for her brother to go to college.  As long as he is there, she must keep working and she can’t save up money to go to college herself.

"The golden lad finishes Harvard this spring. His fees are paid up, and I've got nearly the money I need now. My Latin is done. So as soon as I complete my botany course, I'll be ready to leave this insane asylum." (Ch. 13)

It was rare for women to go to college back then, unless it was a teacher’s college.  Betsy found a college in Ohio that took women.  She continued studying to prepare to go there.

After Betsy’s brother finishes college, she comments that he probably will not even come and see her. When Betsy gets sick, she has to quit the factory.  Her dream of college will never come true. Even with his sister sick, Betsy's brother shows little interest.

Lyddie wrote the brother. He was only in Cambridge‐less than a day away by coach or train‐but there was a three‐week delay before he wrote to say that he was studying for his final examinations and would, perhaps, be able to come for a visit at the end of the term. (Ch. 14)

Betsy is saddened but not surprised that her brother does not want to visit her.  After all, he is the "golden boy."  Everything is about him.  Lyddie is surprised that he does not take more interest in the sister who put him through college.

 

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Betsy, Lyddie's roommate, uses most of her money to put her brother through college. Betsy's parents are dead, but she has an uncle in Maine who allows her to visit. When Betsy has time off work to go to her uncle's for a holiday, she doubts her brother will have time to see her. She fears he may be "too pressed with invitations from his university mates" to spend time with his sister, even though she is the reason he is able to attend the university. Later, when Betsy becomes seriously ill, Lyddie writes to her brother. Although he is less than a day away from Concord Corporation, he writes that he is too busy studying for final examinations but that he may be able to come at the end of the term to visit. Betsy laughs, but Millie is appalled at the brother's selfishness. Betsy asks if Lyddie wouldn't do the same to help her little brother, and Lyddie almost replies that Charlie is nice. She obviously means that Betsy's brother is not.

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