What dilemma does Lyddie face when Charlie arrives in Lowell in Lyddie?

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Lyddie has to decide if she should send her sister Rachel to Charlie’s new family.

Lyddie has always been the strong one in the family.  When her youngest sister Agnes was born, her mother became mentally withdrawn and unstable and her father left to try to make money out west. Lyddie was the oldest, and she became the head of the house.

Even though she had not seen her father in four years, Lyddie still hoped he would come back.  Her mother got tired of waiting, and left the farm to go to Lyddie’s uncle’s house after the family had a close call with a bear.  Bears or not, that left Lyddie and her younger brother Charles alone with the house.

Lyddie’s mother let out the land and sent Charles and Lyddie to work.  Two years later, Lyddie got a letter from her mother telling her that her youngest sister Agnes had died and her other sister Rachel was in bad shape.  Not long after that, Lyddie’s uncle showed up with Rachel.  He left the little girl with Lyddie and told her that her mother was being institutionalized and the farm sold.

Rachel was too light. Boneless as a rag doll. As Lyddie went up the steps of the boardinghouse, she could feel her tiny burden trembling through the shawl. "It's all right, Rachie. It's me, Lyddie," she said, hoping the child could remember her. (Ch. 15)

As a factory worker, Lyddie did not have any place to keep an eight-year-old girl.  She lived in the factory corporate housing, which was a boarding house that took up most of her pay.  Children were not allowed for factory workers.

When Charlie arrived, he told Lyddie that he now was with a good family.  The people who had taken him in had treated him like a son, and then sent him for Rachel.  She could have a good life with them, and live like a child instead of a slave.  Lyddie knows that this life would make Rachel stronger and allow her a chance to go to school, something Lyddie never got to do.

"I have good news there, too. Mrs. Phinney asked me to bring Rachel back.  She craves a daughter as well. And she'll be so good to her, you'll see. … She's never had a proper Ma, Rachel." (Ch. 18)

Lyddie knows this is true.  However, Lyddie is also sad.  Since her father left, all she wanted was for the family to be back together.  Now there seemed no chance of that, with their mother put away and Agnes dead.  Rachel was the last piece of the dream that Lyddie had left.

Still, the choice was really no choice at all.  Lyddie may want to keep her family together, but it would be selfish to keep Rachel when she had no way to take care of her.  Rachel would have a much better life with Charlie’s new family.

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What dilemma does Lyddie face in Lyddie?

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.

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What dilemma does Lyddie face in Lyddie?

Lyddie faces many dilemmas throughout the story. I will try to pick a couple that are pivotal decisions for Lyddie.

One dilemma that Lyddie faces is going to work in the mills in the first place. She is stepping way out of her comfort zone and heading toward a completely unknown situation. She is a small town farm girl. The very notion of a big city and factory work is completely foreign to her. Despite the choice being scary, Lyddie chooses to go.  

Another dilemma that Lyddie has is to whether or not she should sign the petition for better working conditions. On the one hand, Lyddie knows that the girls are being worked ridiculously hard. Signing the petition might bring positive changes for the working girls. On the other hand, by signing the petition Lyddie risks being blacklisted from the mills completely. That means she won't be able to find work. No work, no paycheck; therefore, she won't attain the financial independence she so desperately craves.

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