Compare and contrast Angela and Cathy's families. Do you think their families and home environments make a difference in the way the girls turn out?

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teachsuccess eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Cathy and Angela's home environments are polar opposites, and they definitely influence how the girls turn out.

In the story, the protagonist, Bryon, becomes infatuated with Cathy Carlson and ends up dating her. Previously, Bryon had dated the impetuous Angela Shepard. Bryon enjoys his time at Cathy's house because her family is so different from Angela's. 

Bryon relates that Angela's family members often engaged in violent fights with each other. In contrast, Cathy's family members are respectful and kind toward each other. Both Angela and Cathy are the products of their home environment. During dates, Angela preferred to engage in only one of two activities: making out or fighting. Bryon admits that his dates with Angela became boring after a while.

Because of the dysfunctional family dynamics in her home, Angela tended to approach relationships from a shallow and even antagonistic perspective. She had designs on Ponyboy Curtis even while she dated Bryon. After Bryon and Angela broke up, Angela boasted that Bryon would return to her.

Later, Bryon discovers that her boast was a ploy to cover up her embarrassment at having been rejected by Ponyboy Curtis. Angela had also instigated a fight between Ponyboy and another boy in order to get Ponyboy's attention.

During his time with her, Bryon notes that Angela was a compulsive drinker, and this made their dates very expensive. Angela's predilections may stem from the fact that her father also drank excessively. Angela later marries, but her husband appears to be a ne'er-do-well. 

After Bryon breaks up with Angela, he dates Cathy for a time. Although he and Cathy do part ways eventually, Bryon notes that Cathy was quite unlike the avaricious and aggressive Angela. Accordingly, both Angela and Cathy's home environments definitely influenced how the girls turned out.

Lynn Ramsson eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In S. E. Hinton's novel That Was Then, This Is Now, the female leads, Angela and Cathy, both have black hair, good looks, and romantic ties to Bryon, but that is where their similarities end. In fact, their personalities and their attitudes towards life, both of which have been influenced by their families, make them foils for each other.

A foil is a character who is the opposite of another character or contrasts with another character. For example, the warmth, compassion, and kindness that characterize Cathy's parents highlight Angela's cold-heartedness and manipulative ways, all learned from her brothers, Tim and Curly, the neighborhood toughs who rule by fear and intimidation. The Carlson parents have a large and unruly family, but they value each other and help each other, while Angela's family communicate poorly and are harsh with each other.

In fiction, just as in real life, people develop according to their own inborn nature as well as their environments, which nurture different personal characteristics. Cathy and Angela come from very different homes and families, and the differences impact the way they interact with others in the novel.

gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Angela and Cathy live drastically different lives in the novel That Was Then, This Is Now. Although Cathy's family is poor, she has loving parents and siblings who care about her. Cathy's family supports one another, and her parents encourage their children to get good grades. In contrast, Angela comes from an unstructured household and is continually fighting with her parents and siblings. Bryon mentions that he hated visiting Angela's home and feels more comfortable at the Carlson household. In my opinion, Cathy and Angela's family environments affect their personalities. Cathy is laid back, kind, and intelligent. Her attitude reflects the fact that she was raised by easygoing, respectful individuals. Angela's confrontational, tough personality was shaped by her home environment. Angela has developed into a negative, bitter individual because she grew up in a household where arguments and fighting were common.

Lynn Ramsson | Student

In S.E. Hinton's novel That Was Then, This is Now, the two main female characters, Angela Shepard and Cathy Carlson, both have dark hair, good looks, and romantic ties to Bryon, but those characteristics are all that they share. Their personalities, which may have been shaped by their families and home environments, are markedly different.

Angela, Bryon's old girlfriend, has two older brothers who have a powerful reputation for violence in their neighborhood. These brothers, Tim and Curly, embody the definition of 'hood,' and they are the family members who appear to have the most influence on Angela. Like Tim and Curly, Angela uses her power in negative ways, like when she tries to exact revenge on Ponyboy Curtis for ignoring her. Angela, for all her beauty, leaves a bad impression on the reader.

In contrast, Cathy, Bryon's current girlfriend, comes from a large and loving family, intact with two parents and many siblings. She is a nurturing character, which is evidenced by her looking after her younger brothers and sisters, as well as her protectiveness over M&M, who is living with the long-term effects of a bad acid trip. Her power is in her compassion and kindness, and when she gets together with Bryon, the reader wants to celebrate their relationship.

Both female characters have serious impact on other characters in the novel and on various plot points, but Angela and Cathy represent different kinds of female power and influence. Angela is characterized as mean and vindictive, like her two brothers, while Cathy is kind and sensitive, much like her younger brother. Their families clearly have influenced their development in significant ways.



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That Was Then, This Is Now

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