A Different EndingIn the end, Mark should've been freed from prison and live with Bryon again. What do you think should have happened?
Mark being freed and becoming buddies with Bryon again would not have been realistic--life rarely works that way, especially in a Hinton novel. I didn't like Bryon's decision to turn his friend in, but the result was predictable. Mark was not going to change his ways--inside or out of jail, and it would have been hard for anyone to forgive Bryon. Bryon, however, was not a totally lost cause, and in the end, he is better off without Mark's terrible influence. After all, how would Hinton's title--"that was then, this is now"--have come to fruition if the two boys made up?
This story is about the Hippie days without the idealization of flower power. While an ending with a reconciliation might have been possible, for many who lived the scenario being painted, reconciliation and redemption of the wounded soul did not happen. Hinton writes about what often happened--not about what seldom happened.