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"She's prob'ly in the museum, then. We went last Saturday," the kid said.
"Which museum?" I asked her.
She shrugged her shoulders, sort of. "I don't know," she said. "The museum."
"I know, but the one where the pictures are, or the one where the Indians are?"
"The one where the Indians."
"Thanks a lot." (16.16-21)
While Holden had difficulty communicating with almost everyone, he knows exactly how to speak to this child.
She was having a helluva time tightening her skate. She didn't have any gloves on or anything and her hands were all red and cold. I gave her a hand with it. Boy, I hadn't had a skate key in my hand for years. It didn't feel funny, though. You could put a skate key in my hand fifty years from now and I'd still know what it is. She thanked me and all when I had tightened it for her. She was a very nice, polite little kid. God, I love it when a kid's nice and polite when you tighten their skate for them or something. Most kids are. They really are. I asked her if she'd care to have a hot chocolate or something with me, but she said no, thank you. She said she had to meet her friend. Kids always have to meet their friend. That kills me. (16.23)
Holden interacts better with the world of children than he does with that of adults. This is a big Salinger theme – go ahead and read "A Perfect Day for Bananafish."
The part that got me was, there was a lady sitting next to me that cried all through the goddam picture. The phonier it got, the more she cried. You'd have thought she did it because she was kindhearted as hell, but I was sitting right next to her, and she wasn't. She had this little kid with her that was bored as hell and had to go to the bathroom, but she wouldn't take him. She kept telling him to sit still and behave himself. She was about as kindhearted as a goddam wolf. (18.6)
Holden judges adults primarily on how they interact with and treat children.