What is a summary of chapter 20 of "Lyddie"?  

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teachsuccess eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Chapter 20, Lyddie continues to stay vigilant but indifferent to Mr. Marsden's lack of regard. She is simply pleased that he chooses to ignore her. To keep her mind off her unprincipled supervisor, Lyddie decides to treat herself to some books.

In honor of Ezekiel Freeman, a former slave and her friend, she purchases the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass and the Bible; both volumes are a great comfort to her on lonely Sundays. Lyddie also enjoys Charles Dickens' account of his travels to America. As the summer progresses, more and more New England workers leave. Meanwhile, Irish workers take up new places at the looms.

To keep up her courage, Lyddie copies out passages from the book of Psalms and Frederick Douglass' narrative to paste on her looms. Meanwhile, she and Brigid begin to coach several of the new workers. Lyddie marvels at Brigid's patience with the girls, while Brigid admires Lyddie's scholarly spirit. In due time, however, Lyddie discovers that Brigid is illiterate. Lyddie then begins on a mission to teach her friend how to read, beginning with an introduction to the alphabet.

Soon, a letter arrives from Charlie, who informs Lyddie that Rachel has begun school again and that her cough is nearly gone. He begs her to consider Luke Stevens' suit. As the fall approaches, a letter arrives to inform Lyddie of her mother's death. Lyddie finds that she can hardly mourn; she feels that her mother had been lost to her long before death took her.

In the fall, the days get shorter, and the whale oil lamps must burn longer. Lyddie continues her lessons with Brigid but is surprised when Brigid fails to show up for one of their sessions at the end of a particular shift. Lyddie goes in search of her friend and eventually finds Brigid alone in the weaving room with Mr. Marsden. Seeing Mr. Marsden's hands clamped on Brigid's arms, Lyddie crams a bucket full of stagnant water over Mr. Marsden's head.

This gives Lyddie time to drag the beleaguered Brigid away from their overseer. Meanwhile, Mr. Marsden's efforts to get the bucket off his head remind Lyddie of the bear trying to do the same thing in her family's cabin at the beginning of the book. The scene is so funny that Lyddie can't help breaking into uncontrollable laughter as she drags Brigid to safety.

rmhope eNotes educator| Certified Educator

As chapter 20 opens, Lyddie no longer has the company of either her sister Rachel or Diana Goss. She has recovered sufficiently from her illness to be back to her old speed, and she has broadened her reading selections to the Bible and other Dickens pieces. More Irish girls are coming to work at the factory, and Lyddie becomes closer to Brigid, teaching her the ABCs and to read at the factory and in the evenings. 

One day Lyddie receives a letter that her mother has died. She doesn't react much because in a way her mother was "gone long before she died." 

Leaving the factory one evening, Lyddie expects to go out with Brigid but finds she isn't there. She re-enters the factory to hear Brigid pleading with Mr. Marsden. Lyddie realizes that Mr. Marsden is being abusive toward Brigid. She grabs a bucket of water and brings the whole bucket down on top of the overseer's head. Then she and Brigid run out. Lyddie can't stop laughing because the overseer with the bucket on his head reminds her of the bear in their cabin in chapter 1. She keeps laughing as she runs away from the factory, pulling Brigid along with her.

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