That Was Then, This Is Now by S. E. Hinton

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What happens in That Was Then, This Is Now?

In That Was Then, This Is Now, Bryon betrays his friend Mark. Their gang affiliations lead them into many violent situations, and they both struggle to comprehend the world around them after witnessing a murder. Mark starts dealing drugs, and Bryon turns him in after a friend overdoses.

  • Bryon and Mark often hustle pool in Charlie's Bar. Their families are poor, and Bryon's mother is in the hospital. Their financial troubles often lead to violence.

  • The boys struggle to negotiate their social situation. Bryon's ex-girlfriend starts a fight, and members of rival gangs harass M&M, a friend of Mark and Bryon's.

  • Unbeknownst to Bryon, Mark deals drugs. When M&M overdoses, Mark finds Bryon's stash and realizes he might be responsible. He turns Mark in, destroying their friendship.

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Summary

(Critical Survey of Literature for Students)

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 unintended recipient of a bottle to the...

(The entire section is 3,103 words.)