"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real." (6)
Wow. This does seem magical. Toys become Real when a child truly loves them. Not just plays with them. We wonder how many toys we've made Real with the power of love.
But very soon he grew to like it, for the Boy used to talk to him, and made nice tunnels for him under the bedclothes that he said were like the burrows the real rabbits lived in. And they had splendid games together, in whispers, when Nana had gone away to her supper and left the night-light burning on the mantelpiece. And when the Boy dropped off to sleep, the Rabbit would snuggle down close under his little warm chin and dream, with the Boy's hands clasped close round him all night long. (17)
So at first, the Rabbit isn't digging hanging out with the Boy. We get it. It's awkward being cuddled all night. But then the love factor sets in and the Rabbit really starts to connect with the Boy. He's in deep and he doesn't so much mind being squished a little if it means super snuggles.
"You must have your old Bunny!" she said. "Fancy all that fuss for a toy!"
The Boy sat up in bed and stretched out his hands.
"Give me my Bunny!" he said. "You mustn't say that. He isn't a toy. He's REAL!"(20-22)
Nana just doesn't get it. Grown-ups rarely do. When the Rabbit gets left out on the lawn one night, she doesn't think it's a big deal to leave him there until morning. He's just a toy, right? But the Boy sees the Rabbit as a precious loved one. You wouldn't leave your baby outside over night, would you? The Boy's not gonna let the Rabbit sit out there by himself either.
That night he was almost too happy to sleep, and so much love stirred in his little sawdust heart that it almost burst. And into his boot-button eyes, that had long ago lost their polish, there came a look of wisdom and beauty, so that even Nana noticed it next morning when she picked him up, and said, "I declare if that old Bunny hasn't got quite a knowing expression!" (24)
The Rabbit is so psyched that the Boy said he's Real that he's practically bursting with love for the kid. These guys are besties forever. Well, until scarlet fever at least…
He took the Velveteen Rabbit with him, and before he wandered off to pick flowers, or play at brigands among the trees, he always made the Rabbit a little nest somewhere among the bracken, where he would be quite cosy, for he was a kind-hearted little boy and he liked Bunny to be comfortable. (26)
This is sweet. The Boy doesn't just toss the Rabbit on the ground and leave him lying face down in the mud while he wanders off. He actually cares about his friend. He makes him a little nest to sit in while he goes off to explore. The Boy loves and cares about his little friend—even if he is stuffed with sawdust.
Weeks passed, and the little Rabbit grew very old and shabby, but the Boy loved him just as much. He loved him so hard that he loved all his whiskers off, and the pink lining to his ears turned grey, and his brown spots faded. He even began to lose his shape, and he scarcely looked like a rabbit any more, except to the Boy. To him he was always beautiful, and that was all that the little Rabbit cared about. He didn't mind how he looked to other people, because the nursery magic had made him Real, and when you are Real shabbiness doesn't matter. (51)
This really is love, isn't it? The Rabbit is getting all old and misshapen, but the Boy loves him anyhow. It doesn't matter how worn and gross he looks because he'll always be beautiful to the Boy. That's pretty adorable.
Strange people came and went in the nursery, and a light burned all night and through it all the little Velveteen Rabbit lay there, hidden from sight under the bedclothes, and he never stirred, for he was afraid that if they found him some one might take him away, and he knew that the Boy needed him. (53)
When the Boy gets sick, the Rabbit doesn't want to leave his side. The Boy loved the Rabbit enough to make him Real and now the Boy needs his love to get him better. There's no way this bunny is going anywhere. Stay strong, little floppy-eared friend.
It was a long weary time, for the Boy was too ill to play, and the little Rabbit found it rather dull with nothing to do all day long. But he snuggled down patiently, and looked forward to the time when the Boy should be well again, and they would go out in the garden amongst the flowers and the butterflies and play splendid games in the raspberry thicket like they used to. All sorts of delightful things he planned, and while the Boy lay half asleep he crept up close to the pillow and whispered them in his ear. And presently the fever turned, and the Boy got better. He was able to sit up in bed and look at picture-books, while the little Rabbit cuddled close at his side. And one day, they let him get up and dress. (54)
So we're not saying that the Rabbit's mere presence and whispered words of encouragement cured the Boy, but they couldn't have hurt. When you have someone you love by your side it can make the healing process go a whole lot smoother. Paging Dr. Rabbit.
"Wasn't I Real before?" asked the little Rabbit.
"You were Real to the Boy," the Fairy said, "because he loved you. Now you shall be Real to every one." (69-70)
Okay, so the Boy didn't really say much about the Rabbit being thrown in this trash bag, but the Fairy assures the Rabbit that the Boy did make him Real. The Boy loved him and now the Fairy has come to make him a wild rabbit so everyone can see him.
One of them was brown all over, but the other had strange markings under his fur, as though long ago he had been spotted, and the spots still showed through. And about his little soft nose and his round black eyes there was something familiar, so that the Boy thought to himself:
"Why, he looks just like my old Bunny that was lost when I had scarlet fever!"
But he never knew that it really was his own Bunny, come back to look at the child who had first helped him to be Real. (79-81)
Aww. So the Boy did miss his beloved Rabbit after all. He even remembered his spots.