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Suggested Answers to Discussion Questions for
Learning Guide to THE LION KING

1.  [Standard Questions Suitable for Any Film. No suggested Answers.

2.  What is the "circle of life?" Explain how it works. Suggested Response: See Helpful Background Section.

3.  What is a "food chain?" Suggested Response: See Helpful Background Section.

4.  What does it mean to be at the top of the food chain? Name three animals at the top of their "food chains." Suggested Response: See Helpful Background Section.

5.  Can it be said that bacteria and viruses which prey upon and sometimes kill humans and lions, are really at the top of the food chain? Suggested Response: No. The concept of the food chain relates to complex organisms such as mammals, reptiles and amphibians, and to activities such as hunting and feeding. It hasn't been applied to diseases caused by bacteria and viruses. The relationship of disease to the food chain is an interesting thought showing the limitations of the food chain analysis.

6.  In the film, one of the hyenas refers to lions as being at the top of the food chain and implies that hyenas are not. Is this correct? Suggested Response: Only partially. Both lions and hyenas are at the at the top of their food chains. Hyenas have no natural predators and compete with lions for food. Lions will kill hyenas as competitors but they generally don't eat hyenas. Lions, like hyenas, will eat the kills of other animals. The film assumes that hyenas do not hunt and kill their food but are only scavengers. This is incorrect.

7.  How did Scar convince Simba to go outside his father's territory where Simba could be killed by the hyenas? Suggested Response: Scar aroused Simba's curiosity by telling him it was an elephant graveyard. Then Scar challenged Simba by saying that only the bravest lions went there. Finally, Scar asked Simba not to tell anyone and to keep it "our little secret" See analysis of this dialogue in the Example of Manipulative Conduct by an Adult.

8.  What were the results of Simba's disobedience when he went to the elephant graveyard against the instructions of his father? Suggested Response: Simba was disobedient and almost got himself and Nala killed by trying to find the elephant graveyard.

9.  Was Scar really smarter than Mufasa? Suggested Response: No. Mufasa could manage the pride lands so that they continued year after year. Scar mismanaged the pride lands and ruined them. Scar was able to kill Mufasa by betraying him. Disloyalty is not evidence of intelligence.

10.  What did Mufasa warn Simba against when he said, "I'm only brave when I have to be"? Suggested Response: Don't go looking for trouble or taking reckless risks.

Social-Emotional Learning


1.  Simba felt responsible for his father's death because his father was trying to save Simba when his father died. Should Simba have felt that way? Suggested Response: No, Simba didn't do anything wrong this time. The situation was caused by Scar, who lied to Simba about a surprise for his father and put Simba in the way of the stampede. Scar also had the hyenas start the stampede and then murdered Mufasa by pushing him off the cliff.


2.  Did Simba do the right thing by running away? Suggested Response: There are two parts to this answer. First, the initial decision to do what Scar suggested, and run away from home, was not good. Especially if Simba had done something wrong, he should have stayed and taken responsibility. However, once the hyenas started to chase Simba, he had no choice because the hyenas would have killed him. In general running away from home is not a good idea because it removes children from the protection of their parents and exposes them to great danger. For example, Simba would have been eaten by the vultures had not Timon and Pumbaa happened to be "bowling for buzzards."


3.  While Simba was in the forest with Timon and Pumbaa, he thought that he couldn't go back to his home because he had been responsible for his father's death. Was he right about his? Suggested Response: No. Simba needed to go back and take responsibility for what he thought he had done. When Nala found Simba, her revelations about Scar's mismanagement of the pride lands also became a compelling reason for Simba to return. Simba responded to this later challenge only to find that he was not responsible for his father's death.

4.  In the story, Simba was blameless in Mufasa's death, but he didn't know it. What if Mufasa had been killed in the elephant graveyard while trying to rescue Simba and Nala from the hyenas? This would have been partially Simba's fault because Simba had disobeyed Mufasa by going there. Was there any way that Simba could have redeemed himself if his disobedience had been a major cause of his father's death? Suggested Response: In normal human experience, there is almost always a way for a person to atone for what he or she has done and to achieve at least some level of redemption. Simba could have redeemed himself by getting rid of Scar, the bad king. In addition, for his self-esteem and to permit him to move on, Simba should have atoned for what he thought he had done, rather than run away. Atonement is frequently missing from modern responses to negligent conduct. Atonement is an important way to restore internal moral equilibrium by putting effort into righting a wrong one has committed or providing compensation to an injured person.

5.  Did Simba do the right thing in waiting for such a long time before he went back home? Suggested Response: No, but the important thing is that he did go back when Nala found him.

6.  What was the most courageous thing that Simba did in the story? Suggested Response: Going back to challenge Scar when Simba still thought that he was responsible for his father's death. Just going back was more courageous than fighting Scar; it took moral courage.

7.  Does this film marginalize the role of women? Suggested Response: Yes. Simba's mother had a very small role and the female lions did not challenge scar when Simba was gone.


8.  How do Timon and Pumbaa show their friendship to Simba? Suggested Response: By going back to lion country to help him fight Scar and the hyenas. They had to give up their philosophy of "hakuna matata." Point out that Simba didn't even ask for their help, probably thinking that, as adherents to "hakuna matata," Timon and Pumbaa wouldn't be interested. They came without being asked. That's what a friend does.


9.  When is ambition a source of evil? Suggested Response: Ambition is bad when it leads people to do something wrong or prevents them from doing the right thing. Ethics and morality should channel ambition into paths which cause people to do good things that benefit society as a whole.

Moral-Ethical Emphasis Discussion Questions (Character Counts)
(Teachwithmovies.com is a Character Counts "Six Pillars Partner"
and  usesThe Six Pillars of Character to organize ethical principles.)

Discussion Questions Relating to Ethical Issues will facilitate the use of this film to teach ethical principles and critical viewing. Additional questions are set out below.


(Be honest; Don't deceive, cheat or steal; Be reliable -- do what you say you'll do; Have the courage to do the right thing; Build a good reputation; Be loyal -- stand by your family, friends and country)

1.  When Simba snuck off to the elephant graveyard, he lied to his mother about where he was taking Nala. What did this lie almost cost Simba and Nala? By lying, what did Simba not have that a young lion could have used? Suggested Response: The lie almost cost Simba and Nala their lives. Being young lions, Simba and Nala didn't have enough experience or knowledge to properly assess the danger of a trip to the elephant graveyard. Decisions based on lies are almost never valid. By lying to his mother, Simba did not have the benefit of her superior knowledge and judgment about the dangers of what he intended to do. Nala went along with the lie and therefore became a party to it.


(Do what you are supposed to do; Persevere: keep on trying!; Always do your best; Use self-control; Be self-disciplined; Think before you act -- consider the consequences; Be accountable for your choices)

2.  What do you think of "hakuna matata" as a philosophy of life? By the end of the film did anyone live by that credo? Suggested Response: It's irresponsible because a person living by "hakuna matata" would never accomplish anything, would not meet his or her responsibilities, would not face up to the challenges in life, would not mature or grow up, and would not be part of a caring community. By the end of the film, no one, not even Timon and Pumbaa, lived by "hakuna matata."

3.  Evaluate Nala's role in the trip to the elephant graveyard. Suggested Response: Nala had a responsibility to her friend Simba not to let him lie and not to let him go to a place that was outside of the area in which she knew she was protected. This was especially true when she didn't know enough about that place to know if it was dangerous. She also had a responsibility to her mother and to Simba's mother to try to force Simba to correct his lie to them. By not speaking up, she participated in Simba's lie.

Last updated January 13, 2008.

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