Lyddie's roommates call Diana a radical; Diana says that she is infamous. What do these two words mean, and why do people use them to refer to Diana?
A radical is someone who behaves very differently than most people. To be infamous means that you have a bad reputation. Diana is radical because she wants to organize the factory workers, and this makes her infamous because it is dangerous to try to organize.
Lyddie is a little baffled by Diana at first. The other girls tell her that Diana is a radical, and she should not be “taken in” by her, or in other words convinced.
"If it's Diana Goss," Prudence said, "she's a known radical, and Amelia is concerned-"
Betsy laughed. "I don't think our little country cousin is acquainted with any radicals, known or unknown." (Ch. 9)
A radical is a person who has extreme views. Most of the girls prefer to follow the factory rules and not make waves. Diana is a radical because she believes that the girls should not work too many hours and should be provided with safer working conditions. She belongs to a workers’ rights movement and helps circulate a petition for more reasonable hours for the factory girls.
When Diana introduces herself with the word "infmaous", she does so jokingly.
“I'm Diana Goss."
She must have noted a flicker of something in Lyddie's face, because she added, "The "infamous" Diana Goss," and dimpled into her lovely smile.
"So you've been warned."
"Not really-" (Ch. 9)
Being infamous is not necessarily a bad thing. It can just mean that you are scandalous to some people. Diana does not mind her sketchy reputation. She has been a factory worker for a long time, and she looks out for them. It matters more to her that she might be making a difference than that some people do not like or trust her.
Lyddie actually does become good friends with Diana. She avoids signing the petition at first, because she does not want to get into trouble. She eventually does go to one of Diana’s meetings, but the petition has already failed. Lyddie is sad when Diana has to leave the factory because she gets pregnant and the father is a married man.