Jane’s cousin John Reed is a good-for-nothing wastrel. As a child, he’s a bully, pushing Jane around, reminding her of her poverty, and trying to keep her from enjoying herself in any way despite the fact that he’s four years older than her and should really be a little more mature. What kind of fourteen-year-old boy needs to push around his ten-year-old female cousin in order to feel good about himself?
As an adult, John Reed is a complete waste of space; all he does is spend money, gamble, get into debt, fail out of college, go to brothels, sponge off his mom, threaten to commit suicide, and threaten to hurt his own mom if she doesn’t keep giving him money. When he finally does commit suicide, only Mrs. Reed misses him. He doesn’t really have any redeeming features whatsoever, which makes him a pretty flat character, but it’s important that Jane learns to stand up to him.