What is the theme of "Teenage Wasteland"? Use text for support.

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Kristen Lentz eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The song "Teenage Wasteland" by the Who reveals the theme of teenage angst.  The lyrics challenge authority and express rebellious attitudes:

"I don't need to fight
To prove I'm right
I don't need to be forgiven" (Teenage Wasteland").

The speaker in the song clearly struggles against opposing forces of authority and accepted behavior.  By voicing his independence and lack of concern over being accepted by mainstream thought, the speaker asserts his own independence.  At the same time, the song also focuses on a lack of regret over the speaker's actions:

"Don't cry
Don't raise your eye
It's only teenage wasteland" ('Teenage Wasteland").

Using the metaphor of not looking back over your shoulder, the speaker encourages fellow young people to be strong and independent; meanwhile the refrain of "teenage wasteland" challenges this vision of independence, suggesting that the fierce independence and lack of authority may be ultimately detrimental to teenage youth.