That Was Then, This is Now

That Was Then, This is Now Summary and Analysis of Chapter 3


Bryon looks for a job, and tries to get one with Charlie, who won’t let a minor work for him. He does, however, allow Bryon to borrow his car for a dance on Saturday night. Bryon plans to take Cathy as his date. Instead of taking a girl, Mark plans to just go with his friends, one of whom is Ponyboy Curtis. Bryon dislikes Ponyboy even though he does not know him well; Bryon’s ex-girlfriend, Angela Shepard, dumped Bryon to make a play for Ponyboy, and was subsequently rebuffed. Bryon still feels insecure about girls, and even after bringing Cathy to the school gym, gets nervous whenever she looks at another boy or talks about another boy. While picking Cathy up, he witnesses the dynamics of the Carlson household, and how Cathy’s father dislikes M&M’s long hair and bad grades. At the dance, Bryon hopes Angela will see his pretty date, and sure enough, Angela comes up to them. Bryon embarrasses her by reminding her that Ponyboy did not even heed her. Bryon realizes he really likes Cathy. They talk to Ponyboy and Mark, and have a lot of fun dancing together. Suddenly, there is a scream, and a bleeding Ponyboy runs in calling Bryon, because Mark is hurt. Mark is almost unconscious after Angela Shepard used a boy to clock him in the head with a beer bottle—the boy was trying to get Ponyboy, but got Mark in the head instead. Bryon takes Mark to the hospital, where he gets stitches. Cathy and Ponyboy take Charlie’s car to the hospital, with Ponyboy hotwiring the car after learning from Mark. Bryon realizes that Ponyboy is actually really nice and there is no need to hate him. He takes Cathy home, debates whether or not to kiss her, and doesn’t. Back home, Bryon and Mark talk in the moonlight, and Mark says that Bryon is his only real family left.


Charlie refuses Bryon a work position in the bar because Bryon is a minor; he tells the kid: “Yeah, yeah, you’re a rough kid, they all think that” when Bryon believes he can handle the tough crowds at night. Charlie illuminates another difference between Bryon and Mark, saying: “I wouldn’t trust [Mark] around anything that wasn’t nailed down, but I’d believe anything he said.” Of Bryon, however, he says, “I’d trust you with my wife, if I had one” (pg. 44), demonstrating that people in the community understand how Mark is smooth with his tongue, but Bryon is actually more dependable.
While they talk about attending the dance, Bryon appreciates how Mark does not say “I told you so,” about Angela Shepard, but instead uses his words wisely and criticizes the girl instead. Bryon again tells readers about his personality: “I wouldn’t listen to him. I had to find out things for myself” (pg. 47). Bryon knows that Mark knows him “pretty well” and says that “Sometimes that could be irritating, but most of the time it was funny” (pg. 47). Bryon only says that Mark knows him “pretty well” and not “very well”, etc.; one of the major themes this story explores is the extent to which two people actually know each other. That night, while getting ready, Mark gives Bryon a shirt he said he found lying around—Bryon is almost sure Mark stole it, but does not think about it.
After witnessing the bad relationship between Mr. Carlson and M&M, Cathy and Bryon talk about having “brothers.” Cathy says, “Since M&M and I are the oldest, we’re the closest. I guess you know about that though” (pg. 52). Although Bryon knows about being close with Mark, the trajectory will explore how well Cathy and Bryon each respectively know their brothers.
That night, Mark and Bryon talk about what it means to have real family. Bryon reveals to readers that Mark’s parents are not only dead, but he was also an illegitimate child. Despite his fear at injury, Mark says he was calmed by the realization that Bryon was there for him. Bryon does not really comment on this emotionally, and readers wonder if Bryon feels the same desperation towards Mark as Mark does towards him.