abstract profiles of main characters Byron and Mark

That Was Then, This Is Now

by S. E. Hinton
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Does one of the three boys in That Was Then, This Is Now have more influence than the others?

Mark has a strong influence on Bryon and M&M for most of That Was Then, This Is Now. When Bryon realizes that Mark’s illegal drug sales will lead to legal trouble, he questions Mark’s judgment and breaks free of his influence.

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Through much of That Was Then, This Is Now, Bryon and Mark are friends who are as close as brothers. Mark, who is an orphan, lives with Bryon Douglas and his mother. Initially, it seems as though the two are equals, but gradually it emerges that Mark has the dominant personality. The uneven dynamics in the boys’ relationship become more apparent when Bryon’s mother is hospitalized and the family’s need for money grows even more acute. A third, younger boy nicknamed M&M also becomes friends with them. Part of his connection to the others derives from his being the brother of Cathy, with whom Bryon seems to be getting romantically involved. However, it is revealed that a different connection has also developed: Mark is dealing drugs to the younger boy.

Although Mark is a loyal friend to Bryon, he is often aggressive and lacks self-control. His loyalty is sometimes expressed in physical actions against others or his intention to commit violent attacks. He tends to rationalize involvement in illegal activities if their outcome will benefit others: he sees it as acceptable to sell illegal drugs if the money is going toward Mrs. Douglas’s medical bills.

Mark’s influence on M&M grows stronger through his illegal drug sales, but his hold on Bryon weakens. For much of the novel, Bryon seems to be following Mark’s lead. This begins to change when, with Cathy, he sees the devastating effects on M&M of the drugs that Mark had sold him. Bryon not only breaks away from Mark’s influence, but reports his activities to the police.

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