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The passage about the singing child on the curb on page 115 of The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger is important because in the described moment, Holden is pleased. He first describes the family walking in front of him, pointing out, “They looked sort of poor.” This shows that the family is not of a high social status, so their quality of life is not what many people would consider desirable. Subsequently, Holden remarks that the father is wearing a pearl-grey hat that “poor guys wear a lot when they want to look sharp.” This sentence implies that the father is trying to make himself seem high-class. He is attempting to make himself look more socially acceptable, putting on a mask in order to conform with the adult world. In contrast, the child who is “walking in the street, instead of on the sidewalk, but right next to the curb” is “singing and humming” without caring about how others view him. Despite the family’s status, the child still enjoys himself and does what he truly wants to do. He does not confine himself to the social norm of walking on the sidewalk. The child is not trying to make himself seem like something he isn’t; he is simply being himself and having a swell time. Holden, witnessing this carefree attitude, appreciates how honest the child is. He despises when people are pretentious and phony, so he is uplifted by the little boy’s behavior. By striking a contrast between the blithe child and his conformist father, Holden makes it clear that the sight of a youthful boy doing what he genuinely wants without restraint is rewarding.
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