In The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger, When Phoebe (Holden’s sister) asks Holden what he wants to be when he grows up. Unable to come up with a conventional job holden remembers a misapprehension of a lyric from Robert Burns’s song Comin’ Thro’ the Rye. Holden imagines a field full of children blissfully playing without adults. He imagines catching any kids that go to close to the ledge; he sees himself as The Catcher in the Rye.
. . . I’m standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff—I mean if they’re running and they don’t look where they’re going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That’s all I’d do all day. I’d just be the catcher in the rye and all. (p.173).
This quotation brings back the idea that Holden wants to save others. In this case, he talks about children falling off a cliff, seemingly as a metaphor for children falling into adulthood. Holden has a tendency to idolize youth and wants to protect it at all costs. I believe this is because holden himself is afraid of growing up. Fearful of taking responsibility and making a significant change.