Environmental Ethics

The Lorax

By Dr. Seuss, Random House


The Lorax has gone. But where did he go? The only things left are a sign in the road, and a sour smelling wind filled with nasty old crows. So where is the Lorax? Where did he go? The Once-ler can tell you, for only he knows. What happened here once in this place that's now rotten? For the Once-ler remembers, knows how bad things have gotten, and of a wonderful world that's now nearly forgotten. UNLESS... All hope is not lost, for the Once-ler indeed, has in his Lerkim just one special seed, and with hope and some love, and with you and with me, could take this small seed and bring the world back to speed?


1. What does it mean to do something harmful? How can you tell things that are harmful from things that are not? Is it harmful to cut down just one tree?

2. Why does the Once-ler keep expanding his business after the Brown Bar-ba-loots leave? Why does the Once-ler think that everyone needs Thneeds? Is he right?

3. Do you think that there could have been a way for the Once-ler to make Thneeds, without causing harm? Why or why not?

4. Why does the Lorax leave the word "UNLESS" on a pile of rocks? What does "unless" mean?

5. In the beginning of the story, the Once-ler claims that everyone needs Thneeds, but at the end he claims that what everyone really needs is Truffula trees. Why does he change his mind? What is different about the value of trees and the value of Thneeds? What makes trees more valuable?

This case was taken from Teaching Children

Philosophy by Professor Tom Wartenberg

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