Study Guide

The Velveteen Rabbit Summary

By Margery Williams

The Velveteen Rabbit Summary

Merry Christmas! A little boy gets a special present in his stocking—a velveteen rabbit. (Way better than coal.) He's excited about the little stuffed animal at first, but then the toy just goes into the toy box with all his other playthings.

The Velveteen Rabbit is cool with it though. Most of the toys in the nursery don't talk to him, but the wise old Skin Horse tells him all about what it's like to be Real. See, when a child loves you for a really long time and plays with you and wears you out, then you become Real. The Rabbit's not too sure about the whole "getting worn out" part, but he would really like to be Real someday. #ToyGoals

One night, Nana, the lady in charge of the nursery, give the Boy the Velveteen Rabbit to sleep with. After that, the Boy and the Rabbit become best friends. The Rabbit's fur starts to wear and his seams are coming apart from too much love, but he doesn't mind. One day, the Boy tells Nana that his rabbit isn't a toy—he's Real. The Rabbit is super psyched. He's finally achieved Real status. Way to keep it 100, Rabbit.

In summertime, the Velveteen Rabbit is playing outside with the Boy when a group of wild rabbits come up to him. They want to play with him, but the Rabbit can't move because he's just a stuffed animal. Eventually the rabbits realize that the Velveteen Rabbit isn't a wild rabbit like them and they run away. This just about breaks the poor Rabbit's little heart. And ours.

Eventually, the Boy gets sick with scarlet fever. The Rabbit stays with in bed him until he recovers. But the day before the Boy is supposed to leave for the seaside, the Rabbit hears that he needs to be burned. Apparently he's covered in germs.

So this whole being Real thing didn't work out so great for the Rabbit. He sits in the bag of toys waiting to be tossed into a bonfire and cries. Out of his one real tear grows a flower fairy. This Fairy tells the Rabbit that he was already Real to the Boy, but now she's going to make him Real to everyone. Score. The Fairy carries the Velveteen Rabbit over to a group of wild rabbits in the woods and tells them to look out for her friend. Then she gives him a kiss and he's off and hopping with the other wild bunnies.

Later, the Boy is out playing in the woods by his house and he comes across some wild rabbits. One looks super familiar. It reminds him of a bunny he used to have before he got sick. Of course, we know that it's the Velveteen Rabbit and that he came back to find his special friend who helped him become Real.

The end. (Now would you please pass the tissues?)

  • Christmas Morning

    • It's Christmas morning and a little boy (who's just called the Boy in this story) gets a spiffy-looking velveteen rabbit in his stocking.
    • The Boy is pretty excited about the rabbit at first, but then he loses interest in his new toy after a few hours of holiday excitement. We've all been there.
  • The Skin Horse Tells His Story

    • The Rabbit ends up living in a toy box in the Boy's nursery and seems to have a hard time making friends.
    • See, some of the other toys in the nursery have fancy mechanical moving parts. They like to walk around like big shots and pretend that they're real. And they snub the little Rabbit because he's just a stuffed animal filled with sawdust.
    • The only one who's actually decent to the Rabbit is the Skin Horse.
    • The Skin Horse is probably the oldest toy in the nursery, so he knows things. He's seen these arrogant mechanical toys come and go and break in the process. He knows that just because you have a wind up part doesn't make you real.
    • So what is Real? The Rabbit asks the Skin Horse one day.
    • The Skin Horse explains that toys can become Real when a child loves them for a long, long time.
    • The Rabbit wonders if that hurts.
    • A little bit, the Skin Horse tells him. Keep in mind the Skin Horse is looking a little shabby from years of loving play. But it's all worth it, he assures the Rabbit.
    • Do you become Real super quick or is more like a long drawn out process? the Rabbit asks. He's probably hoping for the quick and easy path.
    • It kind of takes a long time, the Skin Horse explains. (Dang.) That's why the toys that break really easily have a hard time becoming Real. By the time you turn Real, you're fur might be worn out or you might be missing on eye, but you won't be ugly. Well, you'll be ugly but only to people who just don't get it.
    • Then the Rabbit asks if the Skin Horse is Real and the Skin Horse tells him he sure is. The Boy's Uncle apparently loved him so much that he became Real. The Skin Horse can never become unreal again. Aww.
    • Hmm… the Rabbit is interested in becoming Real, but he isn't so thrilled about the whole being loved to pieces part of it. We agree. It sounds rough.
  • Spring Time

    • Nana is the lady in charge of the nursery and the toys aren't super fond of her. She tends to toss things into the toy box when tidying up. Ouch!
    • One night, the Boy can't find the toy he usually sleeps with, so Nana hands him the Velveteen Rabbit. Problem solved.
    • The Boy starts sleeping with the little Rabbit every night. At first the Rabbit really hates it because the Boy snuggles him super tight and it feels like he is suffocating. Plus, the Rabbit misses his nighttime chats with the Skin Horse.
    • But then, he gets to know the Boy better and ends up enjoying their time together. The two of them tell secrets and burrow under the covers and play games.
    • Eventually, the Rabbit is so happy that he doesn't notice when his velveteen fur starts to wear and his tail comes unsown. Oops.
    • In spring, the Rabbit and the Boy play out in the garden.
    • One night, the Boy realizes he left the Rabbit outside and Nana has to go back out with a candle and get him.
    • Nana isn't super thrilled about it but she does it. She can't imagine why the Boy is freaking out over a silly toy.
    • He's not a toy, the Boy tells her, he's real.
    • The Rabbit is totally elated when he hears this. The Boy thinks he's Real? Then he must be; he's not just a toy anymore.
  • Summer Days

    • It's summertime now and the Boy and the Rabbit love to play outside.
    • One night, the Boy makes the Rabbit a nest and then goes to pick some flowers. Suddenly, two wild rabbits hop up to our stuffed friend.
    • The Rabbit doesn't quite get what's up with these newcomers. Their fur is brand new. And their seams are so good you can't even see them. Plus, how are they able to move around without gears or wind up parts? Weird.
    • One of them asks the Velveteen Rabbit to come and play.
    • Um, no thanks, says the Rabbit.
    • Hmm… says the other wild rabbit. Maybe that's because you can't hop?
    • Oh, I totally can. I can hop super high, says the Velveteen Rabbit. (That's not a total lie because he can hop really high when the Boy throws him. Take that, wild rabbits.)
    • Then the rabbits notice that the Velveteen Rabbit doesn't have any hind legs and they have a good laugh at his expense.
    • The Velveteen Rabbits says that he does have hind legs and he would totally show them off but he prefers sitting still to dancing around. Yeah, that's it.
    • But, of course, the Velveteen Rabbit would love to dance and thinking about that just make him sad. Us too.
    • One of the wild rabbits comes really close and sniffs the Velveteen Rabbit. Then he announces to his jerky friend that the Rabbit doesn't smell right. He isn't even real.
    • Now these guys have gone too far. The Velveteen Rabbit tells them that he is Real. The Boy said so.
    • Just then, the Boy runs by and the two wild rabbits dart off.
    • The Velveteen Rabbit is pretty sad. He keeps hoping the two little rabbits will come back and play with him. He is Real after all. But it's no use.
    • Eventually the Boy comes by and brings him home. Bummer.
  • Anxious Times

    • Time goes by and the Rabbit just ends up looking more and more raggedy.
    • But that's cool because it just means he's loved. The Rabbit knows he's Real and when you're Real it doesn't matter how you look. The Rabbit will always be beautiful to the Boy. That's true love.
    • But one day, the Boy gets sick. Really, really sick.
    • The Boy has a pretty bad fever and people keep coming in an out of the nursery but the Rabbit stays with him the whole time.
    • Finally, the Boy's fever breaks and he's able to get dressed again and go outside.
    • The Rabbit overhears the grown-ups talking about the Boy. He's going to head for the seaside to recover there. Sweet. The Rabbit has always wanted check out the sea and build sand castles.
    • Of course, Nana and the doctor also mention something about disinfecting the Boy's entire room. All the toys and books the Boy had played with while he was sick have to be burned so that they won't spread any germs. Hmm…
    • Nana notices the Rabbit and asks if he has to go, too.
    • Oh, yeah, says the doctor. He's loaded with scarlet fever germs. Toss that thing right in the incineration pile.
    • Uh-oh.
  • The Fairy Flower

    • So the Rabbit gets thrown in a bag of toys that the gardener plans to burn the next day.
    • And the Boy gets a new bunny with white fur and shiny glass eyes. He's not super worried about where the Velveteen Rabbit ends up because tomorrow he's headed for the seaside.
    • The Rabbit wiggles a little so he can see out of the bag. He starts thinking about the Skin Horse and everything he learned from him. Then he wonders what good is being Real? He was loved and worn down and is gonna end up a pile of ashes anyway.
    • This thought makes the little Rabbit start to cry. One real tear.
    • Okay, but then, the Rabbit's tear falls out the ground and a little flower grows. Out of the blooming flower steps a fairy. All right.
    • She tells the Rabbit that she's the nursery magic Fairy. She takes care of all the toys that children don't want to play with anymore. After children have loved these toys, this Fairy comes and takes them and turns them Real.
    • Yeah, but I thought I was Real already, the Rabbit says.
    • You were Real to the Boy, the Fairy explains, but now you'll be Real to everyone. Sweet.
    • The Fairy grabs the little Rabbit and flies him off over the woods. They land down by a group of wild rabbits.
    • The Fairy announces to the rabbits that she's brought them a new friend and they need to look after him and teach him all kinds of important rabbit stuff.
    • Then she kisses the Velveteen Rabbit and tells him to run and play with his new buds.
    • The Rabbit doesn't move because he doesn't want the wild rabbits to judge him for his lack of hind legs.
    • Of course, he doesn't realize that the Fairy has turned him into a wild rabbit when she kissed him.
    • Finally, the Rabbit gets a tickle in his nose and moves his hind leg to scratch it. He has hind legs. And they move.
    • The Rabbit is so excited that he starts twitching his ears and bouncing around with joy. By the time he looks back to find the Fairy, she's gone.
  • At Last! At Last!

    • The seasons keep passing and the Boy eventually comes home and goes back outside to play.
    • One spring day, he sees two wild rabbits near the woods behind his house. One of them looks kind of familiar.
    • Huh, the Boy says, he looks a lot like that bunny I lost when I had scarlet fever.
    • Obviously, the Boy never finds out but that is his bunny.
    • The Rabbit came back to get another look at the kid who helped him become Real.
    • No, we're not crying. You're crying.