abstract profiles of main characters Byron and Mark

That Was Then, This Is Now

by S. E. Hinton

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Describe the main character's development in That Was Then, This Is Now.

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The main character in That Was Then, This Is Now is Bryon Douglas. The teenage boy’s development shows him changing from being naïve and reckless to thoughtful and responsible. This maturing process includes getting a job to help with family finances, coping with his mother’s illness, falling in love, and rejecting criminal activities. These changes also require him to break with his foster brother, Mark.

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Bryon Douglas is the main character in S. E. Hinton’s That Was Then, This Is Now. The novel is largely concerned with the changes this teenage boy undergoes. When the action begins, he and his foster brother, Mark, are constant companions who are primarily interested in having fun. Apparently unfamiliar with the idea that actions have consequences, Bryon acts recklessly and shows little regard for other people’s feelings.

This naïve, thoughtless attitude is called into question after he develops a relationship with Cathy, whose younger brother is harmed by taking illegal drugs. At about the same time, Bryon’s mother also becomes seriously ill, and he struggles to deal with the emotional burden of her illness. He also decides to assume responsibility for contributing to the family finances and gets a job.

Two separate parts of his life are shown to intersect when he learns that Mark has supplied the drugs to Cathy’s brother. Bryon realizes that he alone cannot prevent Mark from continuing on the path of illegal activities, a course he has rejected for himself. He notes the drastic changes in his former closest buddy.

The guy who was my best friend doesn’t exist any longer, and I don’t want to think about the person who has taken his place.

A crucial turning point comes when he turns Mark in to the police and then testifies against him in court. His ability to make such difficult decisions and accept the consequences of breaking away from his friend signal his entry into the adult world.

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