There aren’t many symbols in Lies My Teacher Told Me, since it’s a work of nonfiction (and, in a way, a work of meta-nonfiction, or nonfiction about nonfiction). One exception to this rule is the first Thanksgiving, as Loewen describes it in Chapter 3. Most history textbooks treat the New England pilgrims’ first Thanksgiving, during which they (supposedly) invited the local Native Americans to dine with them, as a literal historical event. Loewen argues that the first Thanksgiving was, in fact, nothing of the kind: it was a myth, invented by the pilgrims and their descendants to justify the European settlers’ expansion into North America. Loewen argues that the first Thanksgiving is meant to symbolize the unequal exchange between European settlers and Native Americans—the Europeans invited the natives to their meal, not the other way around. In a broader sense, the first Thanksgiving is an apt symbol for the way that history textbooks distort the facts to create a comforting, ethnocentric myth.
The First Thanksgiving Quotes in Lies My Teacher Told Me
The archetypes associated with Thanksgiving—God on our side, civilization wrested from wilderness, order from disorder, through hard work and good Pilgrim character—continue to radiate from our history textbooks.