Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
Bryon and Mark are best friends. They have lived together with Bryon’s mother ever since Mark’s parents shot each other in a drunken brawl. The boys hang out at Charlie’s Bar and earn money by hustling pool. Charlie tells the pair that M&M, a younger Hippie boy, is looking for them. Bryon and Mark find M&M in time to stop Curly Shepard and his Greaser gang from beating M&M up. The “Hippies” are a new group and the lines between the two former groups, the “Greasers” and “Socs,” are becoming blurred.
The following day, Bryon and Mark visit Bryon’s mother in the hospital. While there, Bryon meets Cathy Carlson, M&M’s older sister, who works in the snack bar. Bryon is taken with Cathy and hopes to see her again. Bryon and Mark also visit Mike Chambers, a boy Bryon’s mother befriends. Mike is recovering from a beating after being falsely accused of harming a young African American girl. Mike tells Bryon and Mark what happened, how he actually saved the girl from being harassed by a group of whites. Mike drove the girl home and his car was surrounded by a group of African American kids. They pulled him from the car and nearly beat him to death when the girl lied, claiming Mike hurt her. Despite the beating, Mike does not hate African Americans. When he thinks about it from the girl’s viewpoint, he can almost understand why she lied. After the visit ends, Bryon and Mark discuss Mike’s misfortune. Mark does not share Mike’s understanding of the factors that caused the girl to lie. Mark states that if anyone ever hurt him like that, he would hate them forever.
Mrs. Douglas’s hospital stay causes financial stress. The boys are forced to look for jobs, but they do not have much luck. Bryon asks Charlie for a job. Charlie refuses because Bryon is underage. Charlie also doubts Bryon’s honesty in certain areas, though he does trust Bryon enough to loan him his car so Bryon can take Cathy to a school dance.
At the dance, Bryon’s former girlfriend, Angela Shepard, starts a fight intending to punish Ponyboy Curtis for failing to respond to her advances. Unfortunately, Mark is the...
(The entire section is 880 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of That Was Then, This Is Now Summary. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!
Summary (Magill's Survey of American Literature, Revised Edition)
In many ways, That Was Then, This Is Now is a sequel to The Outsiders, for the setting in this second Hinton novel is similar, and some of the same characters appear. It is a few years later, however, and the concerns in this adolescent world have changed.
Mark Jennings, fifteen, has been living with Bryon Douglas and his mother since Mark’s parents killed each other in a drunken fight seven years before. Mark and Bryon, the sixteen-year-old narrator of the novel, are as close as brothers—and perhaps too close. As the story unravels, it becomes apparent that Mark has been dealing drugs, and it is those drugs that permanently damage M&M, the brother of Bryon’s girlfriend, Cathy Carlson. Bryon grows in the course of the novel, especially in his relationship with Cathy, but Mark does not. When Bryon discovers the truth about Mark, he turns him over to the police, and the younger boy is sentenced to five years in the state reformatory.
Bryon does not have the consolation of Cathy; feeling guilty over what he has done to Mark, Bryon pushes her away, and she is going out with an older Ponyboy Curtis at novel’s end. The novel thus concludes on a sad and somber note: Bryon wishes that he were a kid again, “when I had all the answers.” He has left the security of childhood and paid a high price for his growth to maturity, losing his two best friends in the process. There are, he has learned, few easy answers to life’s tough questions.
While characterization in That Was Then, This Is Now may be somewhat unsophisticated, character development certainly is not; there is a definite, if gradual, growth that is...
(The entire section is 685 words.)