abstract profiles of main characters Byron and Mark

That Was Then, This Is Now

by S. E. Hinton

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What elements make "That Was Then, This Is Now" a coming-of-age novel?

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By giving examples from the book, a student is able to explain to the teacher and other students what a "coming of age" novel is.

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Bryon and Mark are both teenagers whose lives drastically change after a series of unfortunate, tragic events. At the beginning of the novel, Bryon and Mark are both carefree boys who have fun getting into trouble and messing around. Bryon is slightly more mature than Mark at the beginning of the story because Mark has no regard for authority whatsoever. As the novel progresses, Mark gets beaten up, Charlie dies, and Bryon falls in love with Cathy Carlson. The older Bryon gets, the more he begins to distance himself from Mark. Bryon gains perspective on life and understands that Mark does not know the difference between right and wrong. Bryon continues to mature and develop into a responsible young man, while Mark continues to break the law. Eventually, Bryon finds out that Mark is selling pills and calls the police on him which ends their friendship. At the end of the novel, Bryon no longer feels like a carefree child and realizes that there are consequences in life. Bryon's transformation and moral development classify That Was Then, This Is Now as a coming of age novel.

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How is That Was Then, This Is Now a representative of "coming of age" literature?

That Was Then, This Is Now by S.E. Hinton is a good representative of "coming of age" literature.  "Coming of Age" literature usually shows the growth of at least one character moving from childhood into adult thinking and actions.  Bryon Douglas, in contrast to Mark, begins to show adult thinking when he, as he dates Cathy more, says that,  "I had quit thinking only about myself."  Bryon also begins to see that he cannot do whatever he pleases, but that his actions have consequences, and not only for himself.  Charlie is the character who makes Bryon understand that he cannot look however he wants if he is serious about looking for a job.  Charlie helps Bryon understand that clothes project an image as does politeness over smart mouth know it all.   All of these changes in thinking and actions show that Bryon is "coming of age", becoming an adult instead of staying the young boy that Mark wants to stay with no changes in his life and no responsibilities.  When Bryon discovers the drugs Mark is selling, he faces the ultimate test of growing up into an adult, and turns Mark in for the illegal drugs.  Therefore, this novel definitely fits the "coming of age" literature standard in which at least one of the characters moves into adult thinking and behavior which Bryon fits.

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