Mark, I think your take on the pairings of characters is truly inspired. I hadn’t thought of that when reading the script or seeing the movie, but it resonates with me. Jamie and Ronsel / Laura and Florence / Henry and Hap / White and Black. Really puts into stark relief the duality of racism.
And then there is Pappy, the ugly face of racism. He is clearly a Nemesis figure as you point out.
The other ‘couples’: How about each is a Protagonist and the other is an Attractor? Because the ‘other’ ends up bringing them closer together.
And mud? It’s a Mentor. White + Black comingled. This is what we are. Forget our skin color. We’re all just mud. It’s the great equalizer. A white person. A black person. Covered with mud. Who can tell the difference?
The ‘couples’ you point out convey a message we are more closely aligned than we imagine. Mud drives home that point.
Which speaks to theme…