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.