The Velveteen Rabbit: A Christian Fairy Tale
Updated: May 11, 2020
When was the Last Time You Read,“The Velveteen Rabbit?”
It may have been awhile, so let me give you a short recap of the story:
A young boy receives a stuffed rabbit for Christmas
The rabbit eventually becomes the boy’s favorite toy and constant companion—he doesn’t go out to play and won’t go to sleep without that rabbit!
The boy develops scarlet fever, which can be deadly, but he recovers from it
His doctor tells his parents that everything he had and touched before has to be burned because it could have the scarlet fever germs in it, and cause the boy to get sick again
All of his things are in a pile to be burned, including the stuffed bunny
A fairy appears
The fairy tells the bunny that because the boy loved him, he became real
Once you’re “real” you can never be “not real”
So he goes from being a stuffed bunny into a real one, that can hop around with the other bunnies
The Velveteen Rabbit has the same color markings when he becomes “real” that he had as a stuffed bunny
Now, generally speaking, stuffed animals don’t become real animals. If they did, we wouldn’t allow kids to play with stuffed tigers, or stuffed bears that are constantly looking for pots of honey.
So why would a story about a stuffed rabbit that becomes a real rabbit be a good story to read to children?
Or to understand what it means to be “real”?
Because the story is an allegory about what it means to be real
For a thing to be “real” means that it exists. In the beginning of the story, the Velveteen Rabbit is just a stuffed animal, but he’s still “real” because he exists.
He’s a stuffed animal, not a live rabbit, so he’s a real stuffed rabbit, and stuffed animals are imitations of what a rabbit truly is.
So he’s a real stuffed rabbit, but not a real rabbit.
Is this a Christian Story?
Did you ever think of it as a Christian story? The only mention of Christianity in the story is that the boy receives the Velveteen Rabbit as a Christmas present, so is it?
Here’s another way of summarizing the story:
The boy loves the stuffed rabbit, and it’s through HIS love that the bunny becomes “real” or “exists” to the boy as a bunny instead of as a stuffed animal
The boy then suffers from scarlet fever, which is named because the skin turns red; it looks VERY flushed, so there is a lot of blood at the surface of the skin.
Does this remind you of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, sweating blood?
The boy faces death from the scarlet fever—while he looks red
He later recovers, so he rises “from the dead” or from a sickness where he faced death
Through the boy’s death:
All that he had before has been burned up and destroyed, and what rises from this death—both the boy and the stuffed rabbit—has been “purified.”
There is a New Creation
The bunny is transformed
Trans means change, and
Form is the outer appearance
This is why the rabbit’s outer appearance changes: he now has a “real” rabbit soul, and his body now shows everyone else that he’s an actual rabbit, not a stuffed rabbit
At the end of the story, it’s important that the boy recognizes the bunny, because even though the bunny’s outer form has changed, the boy knows who the bunny REALLY is.
The boy—whose name is never revealed in the story—is the “Christ figure” in the story. He’s not God, but his actions in the story symbolize what Jesus did while He was still on earth.
It’s through God’s love for us that we—like the Velveteen Rabbit—begin to exist, and then at our baptism we become a “new creation” in Christ.
It’s only in heaven that our souls are perfected because there is no sin in heaven.
And others are able to see who we really are—not as we are now, but who we are in the new world to come.
Do you Remember the Fairy in the Story?
There is one, but she only appears at the end, and it’s an important role. She only appears when visits the bunny while he’s on the heap of the boy’s things that are ready to be burned up.
In this story, her role is closer to an angel than a fairy because she’s acting as a messenger, but in the story she’s called a fairy. She is the one who tells the bunny that he’s now a real rabbit in truth, not just a stuffed rabbit.
So yes, I’d say this is a Christian story
List of Posts in the "Fairy Tale Fridays" Series:
Velveteen Rabbit: A Christian Fairy Tale (this post)