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The Wall is a rock opera[24] that explores abandonment and isolation, symbolised by a metaphorical wall. The songs create an approximate storyline of events in the life of the protagonist, Pink, a character based on Waters,[25] whose father was killed during the Second World War (as was Waters'). Pink is oppressed by his overprotective mother, and tormented at school by tyrannical, abusive teachers. Each of these traumas become metaphoric, "bricks in the wall". The protagonist eventually becomes a rock star, his relationships marred by infidelity, drug use, and outbursts of violence. As his marriage crumbles, he finishes building his wall, completing his isolation from human contact.[21][26]

Hidden behind his wall, Pink's crisis escalates, culminating in an hallucinatory on-stage performance where he believes that he is a fascist dictator performing at concerts similar to Neo-Nazi rallies, at which he sets men on fans he considers unworthy.[26] Tormented with guilt, he places himself on trial, his inner judge ordering him to "tear down the wall", opening Pink to the outside world. The album turns full circle with its closing words "Isn't this where...", the first words of the phrase that begins the album, "...we came in?", with a continuation of the melody of the last song hinting at the cyclical nature of Waters' theme.[27]

The album includes several references to former band member Syd Barrett, including "Nobody Home", which hints at his condition during Pink Floyd's abortive US tour of 1967, with lyrics such as "wild, staring eyes", "Hendrix perm" and "Gohills Boots". "Comfortably Numb", was inspired by Waters' injection with a muscle relaxant to combat the effects of hepatitis during the In the Flesh Tour.[28]

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