abstract profiles of main characters Byron and Mark

That Was Then, This Is Now

by S. E. Hinton
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What is the main theme of That Was Then, This Is Now?

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One particular theme can be Everyone faces coming of age, but each person handles it differently. In the story, Bryon changes from the beginning to end. At first, he cares only for himself and Mark. However, after he meets Cathy, M&M’s sister, he falls in love with her. As the...

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One particular theme can be Everyone faces coming of age, but each person handles it differently. In the story, Bryon changes from the beginning to end. At first, he cares only for himself and Mark. However, after he meets Cathy, M&M’s sister, he falls in love with her. As the story progresses, Bryon opens his heart to others. As he puts it: “I had quit thinking only about myself.” This is further shown when M&M runs away. As Bryon comforts Cathy, devastated over the loss of her brother, he says that “it was the first time I’d ever felt bad for anyone except Mark.” This realization marks his own coming of age, his path into maturity.

Bryon also changes in that he begins to recognize consequences for his actions. In the beginning of the story, Bryon really needs a job, but can't figure out why he hasn't gotten one. He blames everyone else, saying that they refuse to hire him. Yet later he realizes what the problem was all along and asks himself, “Who’s going to hire a mouthy kid who acts like he already knows it all?” Bryon's maturation involves a “haircut, clean clothes, and a really big change in attitude.” Bryon is aware of his transformation, and allows himself to continue on the path to maturity.

Yet he is also aware that Mark is not making the same changes. As Byron grows and learns, Mark desperately tries to cling to the gang life that they enjoyed as kids. Mark misses the camaraderie and sense of belonging that came from the extended family of the gang. Although Bryon tries to get Mark to see that it is good “when you know your own personality so you don’t need the one the gang makes for you,” Mark still searches for the relationships they had years ago. He continues to sell drugs, even though it hurts those around him. His concept of right and wrong only covers himself-he doesn't have room for anyone else in his worldview.

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