What is the situation with Betsy's brother in Lyddie?

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Betsy is putting her brother Charlie through college.

Betsy is a kind but outspoken factory worker who is Lyddie’s roommate.  Like Lyddie, she has a brother.  Her brother is in Harvard College, with Betsy paying his way.  She hopes to pay for her own college after he finishes. 

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Betsy is putting her brother Charlie through college.

Betsy is a kind but outspoken factory worker who is Lyddie’s roommate.  Like Lyddie, she has a brother.  Her brother is in Harvard College, with Betsy paying his way.  She hopes to pay for her own college after he finishes. 

Betsy is a reader.  She is ambitious.  She teaches Lyddie to read, beginning with reading Oliver Twist to her.  Lyddie is very grateful since she never really had a chance to go to school.  Like Betsy, she values education.

She fought sleep, ravenous for every word. She had not had any appetite for the bountiful meal downstairs, but now she was feeling a hunger she knew nothing about. She had to know what would happen to little Oliver. (Ch. 10)

When Betsy gets sick, she has to leave the factory.  Her dreams of going to college leave with her.  Before she leaves, she signs the petition for the ten-hour workday.  She knows this will get her dismissed and blacklisted, but since she does not have a chance to come back anyway, she doesn’t care.  She doesn’t seem to think her brother cares about her.

"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)

If Betsy’s brother cares about her sacrifice and realizes that she wants to go to college, he doesn’t seem to show it.  Betsy has to go off and work for her uncle rather than going to college, because she has spent all of her money on her brother’s education.

Betsy’s brother shows the readers a couple of things.  First, his relationship with Betsy contrasts with Lyddie’s relationship with Charlie.  Lyddie loves her brother and worries about him, but Betsy feels taken advantage of by hers.  Second, we learn that college was rare for women, but that some women did aspire to go.

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