Marjorie William’s children’s story book, The Velveteen Rabbit tells the story of a stuffed toy rabbit given to a young boy as a Christmas present. The velveteen rabbit lives in the nursery with all the other toys, waiting for the day when the boy will choose him as a playmate.
In time, the shy Rabbit befriends the tattered Skin Horse, the wisest resident of the nursery, who reveals the goal of all nursery toys: to be made “real” through the love of a human. One night we get to overhear their conversation..
‘What is REAL?’ asked the Rabbit one day, as they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, just before Nana came in to tidy up the room. ‘Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?’
‘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.’
‘Does it hurt?’ asked the Rabbit.
‘Sometimes,’ said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. ‘When you are Real, you don’t mind being hurt.’
‘Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,’ he asked, ‘or bit by bit?’
‘It doesn’t happen all at once,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t often happen to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off; and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real, you can’t be ugly except to people who don’t understand.’
Source: Quote from Marjorie Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit.