The title "The Catcher in the Rye" is to symbolize how Holden wants to protect the innocence of little kids. In the novel he told Phoebe that he wants to be the catcher in the rye, he would stand at the edge of a cliff as children play around with him, and he would catch them before they ran too close to the cliff. Holden does not wan to see children go through what he has been through, or what he will come across, he wants to protect them from it before it happens.
Salinger called the novel "The Catcher in the Rye" because it signifies how even though Holden is the way he is; he still has the innocence of a little child inside of him. It symbolizes the child inside Holden, and the part of him that wants to save other children from being like him. The title tells the main idea of the novel. The innocence of Holden makes him have his nervous break down; he was not able to handle things more maturely. .
Most people in society can relate to this. They want to act older, and do things older people do, but deep down inside of them is the innocence of a little kid. For example teenage girls, they put on make up to look older, but does that really make them older? No. Most teenage girls have that innocence inside of them, they still like cartoon characters such as Winnie the Pooh. It was the same with Holden, he tried to participate in activities for older people, but inside he was still young.