Lyddie wrestles with several dilemmas in the novel. When visiting the farm, she meets Ezekiel. He is a runaway slave who is heading north to freedom. Lyddie faces a dilemma. Should she give the calf money she has been saving to Ezekiel? Or should she keep it to use for the debts on the farm? Lyddie quickly decides to give Ezekiel the money.
Lyddie wrestles with the dilemma of whether to sign the petition. The petition is regarding the poor working conditions of the factory girls. Lyddie delays for so long that she misses her opportunity to sign.
There are two dilemmas that Lyddie faces in regards to her younger sister, Rachel. Young Rachel comes to stay with Lyddie. Rachel begs her sister for the chance to become a doffer in the factory. Lyddie is torn because she wants her sister to attend school instead. Eventually Lyddie lets Rachel get a job at the factory.
Later, Charlie comes to see Lyddie. He tells her that Mr. and Mrs. Phinney (his employers) are willing to take Rachel in. He assures her that they will treat Rachel like a daughter. Lyddie is once more faced with a dilemma. She does not want Rachel to leave, but she knows it is for the best. In the end, she lets Charlie take Rachel back with him.