abstract profiles of main characters Byron and Mark

That Was Then, This Is Now

by S. E. Hinton

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What are some conflicts in That was Then, This is Now?

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The conflict between M&M and his father can be considered a microcosm of the larger inter-generational conflict that existed in the United States during the 1960s.

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Like any good novel, S. E. Hinton's narrative in That Was Then, This Is Now is full of conflict. One that is especially prevalent is the conflict between M&M and his father, which encapsulates the inter-generational conflict that was prevalent in 1960s America. M&M can be considered a hippy: a guy with long hair who just wants to "turn on, tune in, and drop out." His home life's a pain: his father is always on his back and constantly criticizes him for his hair and his bad grades.

M&M attempts to resolve this conflict by running away from home and shacking up with some stoners, who introduce him to LSD. Unfortunately, as M&M confesses to Bryon at the end of the story, LSD has brought him nothing but trouble. Not only did it adversely affect his grades, but it also gives him horrifying flashbacks and ultimately prevented him from having normal children. M&M says that he no longer wants children (whereas previously he had said that he wanted a large family). The combination of a troubled home life with years of illicit drug use has clearly put an end to those dreams.

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One significant conflict is the growing change between Mark and Bryon.  At first, "inseparable troublemakers," Bryon begins a process of distancing himself from Mark.  Part of this comes out of his own maturation and reflection about things, something that Mark does not share.  Another part of it comes from a time orientation where Mark wishes to live in the past and Bryon emerges from it.  The premise of Bryon's idea of "that was then, this is now" helps to bring out this conflict.  It reaches its apex when Bryon betrays Mark to the authorities for his dealing drugs.

Another conflict is within Bryon himself.  Bryon emerges in the narrative as someone who is fundamentally distant with the world around him.  He is immersed in reflection about the world and his place in it.  This causes him to experience distance with Mark and Cathy.  Both people were individuals towards whom he felt a great deal of affection.  Yet, as the narrative progresses, he loses these feelings towards them and becomes inwardly driven.  This condition is what causes Bryon to lose the ability to care, reflecting a conflict within himself.

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What is the problem or the conflict in each chapter of That Was Then, This Is Now?

The conflicts in each chapter relate directly to the themes of the cycle of gang violence, loss of innocence, and growing up in the real world.  By chapter, they are as follows:

1. M&M is beaten up, and the gang's blithe attitude toward violence is questioned.

2. Bryon can understand how Mike can NOT hate the woman who caused his beating, but Mark cannot.

3. Mark is beat up, and Bryon wants revenge.

4. Mark gets away with everything because of his devil-may-care personality, but there are signs he won't be able to much longer.

5. Bryon feels guilty about Charlie's death.

6. Bryan tries to change his image and leave the gang life, and M&M runs away.

7. In an act of gang retaliation, Mark gets Angela drunk and cuts off her hair.

8. Mark is beat up again, but Bryon wants to end the cycle of violence and retaliation.

9. M&M has a deadly reaction to LSD.

10. Bryon finds out Mark has been dealing drugs and turns him in.

11. Mark has completely lost his innocence and hates Bryon for putting him in prison. Bryon, numb and confused by the pressures and uncertainties of being an adult, will question the rightness of his decision probably for the rest of his life.

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