THE DARING LADIES OF LOWELL DISCUSSION GUIDE
1. How is the treatment of the "factory
girls" different from the way women are treated in today's work
place? How is it similar?
2. Did the descriptions of how much work went into
creating simple piece of cotton cloth surprise you?
3. When Alice first meets Lovey, she doesn't quite
know what to make of Lovey's frankness and her high spirits.
What was your initial reaction to Lovey? Do you think she is
reckless or a woman ahead of her time?
4. The Daring Ladies of Lowell
takes place in 1832, ten years before the landmark decision in
Commonwealth v. Hunt
held that workers have the right to
organize and strike, and more than one hundred years until federal
law was passed prohibiting child labor. Why do you think
progress has been so slow in protecting working people?
5. Discuss Delia and Ellie's difficult situation and the
many parallels with the challenges working mothers still deal with
today: a troubled marriage, battle for custody of a child,
and the difficulty working women can have in securing adequate
6. Alice and her co-workers have a grueling
schedule: thirteen-hour days, ceaseless physical labor, and
only one day a week off. Could you make it through a "factory
7. Discuss the role respectability plays in
the novel, and the consequences of the secrets that are kept to
save reputations (as in the case of Jonathan Fiske) and to maintain
the status quo (Dr. Stanhope's knowledge of the poor conditions and
health hazards at the mill).
8. Alice forms a bond with a Samuel's
grandmother, who stands apart from the rest of the Fiske family.
What does she represent and how has her influence shaped
9. What is Alice's most admirable
trait? What is her least admirable trait?
10. What do you think the future holds for
Alice and Samuel?