Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry Questions and Answers
by Mildred D. Taylor

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Why doesn't Jeremy like his older brothers?  

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Rose Blackburn eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Jeremy is introduced in the first chapter of the book as the children are walking to school. Cassie defines him as a "strange boy." She shares that Jeremy, who is white, meets them in the mornings and walks with them until they go their separate ways for school. He then meets them again in the afternoons. Jeremy has the option to ride the bus to school, but he chooses to walk with Stacey even though the other white students ridicule him for his choice to walk with black students.

Jeremy shares with the children that he doesn't like his older brothers, R.W. and Melvin. As he says of his brothers: "they ain't very nice." He also states that his brothers treat Stacey's friend, T.J., poorly. Jeremy recognizes that his brothers are racist and that they take advantage of T.J. Jeremy attempts to do the right thing by not judging people based on the color of their skin.

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jovip18 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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As a character, Jeremy symbolizes the possibility of a world in which the races are able to not only coexist, but to thrive by working together. Jeremy bucks the prevailing social trend of the period by judging people on an individual basis, rather than adhering to preconceived racial and economic stereotypes.  In a general sense, his open and honest nature towards all people represents hope for a future filled with social equality. 

He is in conflict with his brothers, Melvin and R.W., because they are selfish and manipulative.  While the majority of his family is driven by racism and ignorance, his brothers are driven by malice and greed. For example, they pretend to befriend another character, T.J. Avery, because their relatively superior social and racial status allows them to easily manipulate T.J. for their personal amusement.  They even go so far as to frame T.J. for a crime that they committed, while in turn leading the lynch mob against him.

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