There was once a velveteen rabbit, and in the beginning he was really splendid. He was fat and bunchy, as a rabbit should be; his coat was spotted brown and. Note: The Velveteen Rabbit is an open source book, that is, it is available in the By: Margery Williams, compiled in pdf by Danielle Bruckert. Free kindle book and epub digitized and proofread by Project Gutenberg.
|Language:||English, Spanish, French|
|Distribution:||Free* [*Register to download]|
The Project Gutenberg eBook, The Velveteen Rabbit, by Margery Williams, Illustrated by William Nicholson This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no. The Velveteen Rabbit adapted by Thomas W. Hammond from the original book by Margery Williams Bianco. Music and Lyrics by Ron Barnett. This fanciful. Free Download. PDF version of The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams Bianco. To read the whole book, please download the full eBook PDF. If a preview.
These presents are modern and mechanical, and they snub the old-fashioned velveteen rabbit. The wisest and oldest toy in the nursery, the Skin Horse, who was owned by the boy's uncle, tells the rabbit about toys magically becoming real due to love from children.
The rabbit is awed by this idea; however, his chances of achieving this wish are slight. One night, the boy's nana gives the rabbit to the boy to sleep with, in place of a lost toy. The rabbit becomes the boy's favorite toy, enjoying picnics with him in the spring; and the boy regards the rabbit as real.
Time passes, and the rabbit becomes shabbier but happy. He meets some real rabbits in the summer, and they learn that he cannot hop as they do and say that he is not a real rabbit. One day, the boy comes down with scarlet fever , and the rabbit sits with him as he recovers.
The doctor orders that the boy should be taken to the seaside and that his room should be disinfected—all his books and toys burnt, including the velveteen rabbit. The rabbit is bundled into a sack and left out in the garden overnight, where he sadly reflects on his life with his boy.
The toy rabbit cries, a real tear drops onto the ground, and a marvelous flower appears. A fairy steps out of the flower and comforts the velveteen rabbit, introducing herself as the Nursery Magic Fairy.
She says that, because he has become Real to the boy who truly loves him, she will take him away with her and "turn [him] into Real" to everyone. The fairy takes the rabbit to the forest, where she meets the other rabbits and gives the velveteen rabbit a kiss. The boy plays directly with the rabbit, takeshim on outings,has the rabbit standby while he does other things, and takes the toy to bed every night.
The rabbit is sometimesleft behind by the boy; but it is then searchedfor and found becausethe rabbit mattersto the boy and it hasbecomea part of how he does things. They aredepictedasdoing thingstogether,aswhisperingto one another,and asplaying gameswith each other. Williams also describesthe rabbit as if he possesses the ability to have caresof his own: The rabbit is describedas missing the Skin Horse back in the toy room, as struggling to get used to being nearly smotheredunder the boy's bed covers,as being happy to be accompanyingthe boy, and as snug- gling closerto the boy at bedtime.
The boy's senseof the living characterof his relationship with the rabbit is capturedmost pointedly when the velveteen rabbit goesmissingone night and the boy imploresNanato find it. When she exclaimswith frustrationthat the recoveredrabbit, now damp with dew from the garden,is just a toy and that the boy is making a fuss over a meretoy, the boy, indignant,respondsthat the rabbit is not a toy: His bunny is "real.
Site 6: Shortly after this depictedtansformation, the boy leavesthe velveteen rabbit in a woodedareaand live rabbitsapproachthe snrffedtoy. The natural rabbits and the toy-turned-realrabbit are presentedas having a conversation and ultimately an argument about what they are.
The natural rabbits argue that the velveteenrabbit cannotbe real becausehe cannotmove ofhis own accordand he smellsand looks different than they do. The velveteenrabbit is portrayedas indignantand sadat their rejectionof him as real. He insiststhat he has beenmadereal by the boy and, thus,he lonws he is real. Site 7: When the boy falls ill with scarletfever, the rabbit is pushedhere and there under the boy's bedclothes.
The sceneis narratedlargely through the viewpoint of the rabbit, who is describedasbeingboredby the boy's inability to play with him, as whispering softly into the boy's ear about what they will do when the boy is well again,as knowing he needsto be there for the boy, and as taking care not to be discovered by the adults who might take him away from the boy if discovered.
Site E: As theboy becomeshealthier,thereis discussionby adultsin theroom of an upcoming trip to the seashore,where the air will help the boy's further restoration. There is also discussionof the need to burn all the bedding and toys that surroundedthe boy during his illness. The rabbit is portrayed as not recognizing himself as a toy or as somethingthat might be burned: He is con- vinced that he, too, will accompanythe boy on the seashoretrip.
Returning to the level of the third-personnarrativeof the story, Williams describesthe rabbit as being gatheredwith other bedroombelongingsand put into a bag 4 ChapterI to be burned at a later time by the gardener.
As the velveteenrabbit is tossed out, the boy sleepsin a new bed with a new toy rabbit he hasbeengiven. The rabbit remembersthe wonderfrrl things that he shared with the boy and recognizesthat thoseeventsare coming to an end.
He laments: "Of what use is it to be loved and lose one's beauty and becomeReal if it all end[s] like this? The velveteenrabbit is describedas experiencing himself as not yet ready to do this becausehe is immersed in rememberinghis reality as the stuffed rabbit that could not move like these living ones. Indeed,it is not of his own volition that he is presentedas mak- ing new movements:Rather, his leg is portrayed as moving spontaneouslyto scratchat a tickle he feels; from this event,he is describedas realizing his new statusas a living, self-movingbeing.
He is presentedas ecstaticat this movement: "He was a ReaI Rabbit at last, at home with the other rabbits. The boy sees two rabbits peering at him from the bracken, and he notices that one of the rabbits looks 'Just like my old Bunny that was lost when I had scarlet fever! The last two Heidegge4 Winnicon, andThe Velveteen Rabbit 5 sectionsdiscussthe deeperexistential and psychoanalytic dimensionsof this processof coming to experiencereality.
The story of The VelveteenRabbit presentsa developingaccountof the significance of both sef-definedness and other-deftnednessfor securing a thing's characteras somethingboth distinct from and integratedwith other things, as a part of reality.
Irt us begin with the senseof self-definedness, which is taken up both objectively with the senseof self-motion and subjec- tively with the senseof self-consciousself-interpretation.
This issueof being a self-movingbeing is thematicizedin a numberof sitesinThe VelveteenRabbit. When the rabbit is still housedin the toy room, he andthe othertoys aredepictedashavingconversationsabout their internal workings [sites 2 and 3]. The modern toys affirm their superior- ity to the stuffed rabbit, owing to their modern mechanical workings.
While it is not true that the other toys are strictly speakingself-moving-indeed, they are precisely artificial things-the theme of self-motion is nonetheless at play here through the conEast between the characteristics of these toys and the characteristicsof the velveteenrabbit. Such toys, when wound-up, for example, appear to have a characteristic action, in contrast to the inert and static characler of the rabbit.
This theme returns after the velveteenrab- bit has been made "real" by the boy and has, one day, beenleft behind in a wooded area where he meets natural rabbits [site 6]. The velveteenrabbit is presentedas trying to discern where the "clockwork stuck out" of theserab- bits becausethey movedof their own accordlike thosetoys that were wound up by someoneelse.
The issueof movementis recognizedby the velveteen rabbit when the natural rabbits ask him to move and he cannot. The velveteen rabbit insiststo them that he "can jump higher than anything," but he omits telling them that this jumping occurs when the boy throws him.
While the boy and the velveteenrabbit both insist at varying points on the rabbit's realness [sites5 and 6], we seeat the endof the story that eventhey recognizethat they have both beenoperatingin the realm of the imaginary lsites 9 and 10].
For the velveteenrabbit, this recognitionarrives when, having been made truly real by the fairy, he discovershe in fact can move of his own accord[site 9]. Indeed, as we saw earlier, this revelation comes about when the rabbit's hind toe lifts to scratchan itch without his thinking: His body now possesses an internal principle of motion of its own.
For the boy, this revelationhappens when he no0esthat a natural rabbit he seesin the woods in fact, his former stuffed rabbit now becomereal is like his former velveteenrabbit [site 10]. Overall, then, we see in the story a progressiveeducationinto the way in 6 Chapter l which the possessionof the internal principle of motion is a significant ele- ment in a thing's characteras a self-defrnedpiece of reality, and, thus, as naturally real rathet than as fabricated.
We find an amplificationof this self-definedness in the existenceof subjec- tive beingswho arecapableof self-consciousself-interpretation. Here,we are dealing not only with a being that possesses itself so to speak ,owing to its ability to define itself from within through its motions of growth, nutrition, and locomotion. We are now dealing with a being that possesses an ability to consciouslydefine its character,its actions,and, ultimately, its ways of engaging the reality around it.
This theme is perhapsthe most prominent theme of The VelveteenRabbit. From the start to the end of the story, the velveteenrabbit is depictedas questioningwhat he is, as striving to be real, and as consideringwherehe fits into reality. At a numberof points, both the boy and the rabbit pushback againstothers' claims that opposetheir senseof reality. This insistenceis apparentmost notably in the scenein which Nana challengesthe boy's senseof what his velveteenrabbit is [site 5] and in the scenein which the velveteenrabbit is confrontedby naturalrabbitswho deny he is real like they are [scene6].
While Nana and the anthropomorphizednat- ural rabbits are ultimately correct in their interpretationsof objective reality at thesepoints, we see,nonetheless,signifrcantsubjectiveand self-defining actions in the claims of the boy and the anthropomorphizedvelveteenrabbit. While the boy and the toy may be objectively incorrect, they are demonstrat- ing the ability to shapethemselvesof their own accord-that is, to inaugurate self-consciouslya self-definedpinciple of motion.
Thesefacetsof the story point to the ontological irreducibility of self-conscioussubjectivity. As the themeof objectiveincorrectnessmakesclear,however,the educafioninto the natureof self'-conscious reality is not completesimply with the recognitionof its existence.
As the story shows,we needto go beyond this simple experi- ence of self to ttre integration of this experiencewith that of others, through negotiatingwith their ways of defining us. The reality of a thing is wrapped up in a context in which certain things mafter and other things do not mafter. Though it is significant that the natu- ral rabbits can move of their own accord,the significanceof this reality is demonstratedwith and in relationshipto other things i.
The anthropomorphizedvelveteen rab- bit is depicted again and again as trying to figure out his reality. He does so preciselyby engagingwith other beings who can let him see something abouthow he countsor doesnot count. The boy, too, goesthrough a similar strugglewhen he assertshis own view of reality in the face of his Nana's [site 5]. The velveteenrabbit is depictedas finally achievingtrue reality, when at the end of the story, he has not only been turned into a natural, self-moving real rabbit, but also parakes in the motions "as the othen did" lsite 9].
Reality arisesnot only through his motion, but also through his motion that is akin to and acceptedby othersascounting asreal. As describedpreviously,the rabbit is turnedfrom somethingthat was "Real to the Boy. Sening aside the fact that this transformationis accomplishedin the story by a fairy, the activ- ity that is associatedwith this transfonnationis the immersioninlo the world of other rabbits and the learning of what he needsto know to live in Rabbitland.
The velveteenrabbit is made securelyreal at last when he is not only among the live rabbits, but also when he is partaking of their rules, their motions and actions,and their ways of being-when he is at home in a reality both self- and otherdefined.
As we saw in site 9, he became"a Real Rabbit at last, a lnme with the other rabbits' emphasismine. This development of the rabbit making a home in reality with others distin- guishesthe rabbit's realiry from the Skin Horse's. The Skin Horse had earlier told the rabbit that he had himself beenmadereal throughthe love of the boy's uncle; and this history, indeed, importantly points to the significance of mat- tering to another.
Nonetheless,the Skin Horse remains in an arena--the toy room-where his reality is securedonly by one imagining child, and indeed by a child who has long sincegrown old and left the Skin Horse and this idio- syncratic and childhood-bound"reality" behind [site 3].
In contrast, the rab- bit" who has becomereal, has his reality secure,independentof the whim of one individual's imagination. In recognizing the limit of private imagination, we seethe demandfor self-consciousreality emergeinto the sharedsenseof a public reality. Such privacy can maintain itself only in a highly insulatedsituation--one protected from the inevitable challengesof others. The boy's private reality with his vel- veteenrabbiL for instance,quickly encounteredthe challengeofhis Nana, and ultimately was endedwhen his doctor and parentsdetemrinedthe stuffedrabbit neededto be burned.
In doing so, his doctor, parents,and caretakercaredless about the possible and, at this point, unuttered demandsthat the boy might have madeof them to respect"his" reality [sites5 and 8] than about the objec- tive demandsof natural reality.
The securingof reality requirestwo things: that we maintain our internal principle of definition and that we work to coordinate this self-definition with the demandsthat others and their self-definition make 8 Chapter I upon us. Our reality is, thus, establishedin our work of making a home both within ourselvesand within others,in recognizingthe ireducibility of our self-conscioussubjectivity.
At the sametime, we hold our reality answerable to the perspectivesof others and thus to the publicly recognizable world of naturally self-movingrealities. The various episodesof The VelveteenRabbit teachus to recognizethese basic aspectsof what it meansfor somethingto be real, and for us to expe- rience something as such. As we will now turn to see, the story also opens up other crucial existentialand psychoanalyticaspectsof our experienceof reality.
In so doing, the authorputs on display the struggles of every subject. Though we are not toy rabbits, we nonethelessgrow up by struggling with the questionof what reality is and, indeed, whether we are real. Furthermore, the emotionalreactionreadershaveto this book arguablyreflectsthe fact that we all can implicitly recognizeour own story in the story of the rabbit's struggle to establishhis own proper participation in reality.
As was discussedin the first part of this chapter,much of the sruggle of becomingreal is learning to negotiatethe "dialectic of recoglition," that is, learning to negotiatewith the perspectivesof othersand thus to establisha senseof our own self-worth and the worth of our interpretationof things that is coherently integratedwith evaluationsmade by others.
So whereaswe often treat reality as somethingsimply given, whose basic characteris one of enduringfixity, we can see,on the contrary,that reality is better understoodas the achievedsituationof a mutual belongingof subjec- tivity and objectivity. The experienceof reality is not given, but rather it is dependenton how we take up our own dynamicrelationshipto the world.
In short,reality is an experienceavailableto a self-consciouslyfree being. Rec- ognizing this correlation of freedom and reality is experientially challeng- ing. The recognitionrequiresus to let go of our senseof the fixed and alien characterof the real and,simultaneously,to feel the responsibilitywe havein constituting the real. GermanphilosopherMartin Heidegger , Heidegge4 Wnnicott, andTlrc Velveteen Rabbit 9 in Being and Time,arguesthat anxiety is the primary experienceof this cor- relation of freedom and reality.
This chapterposits that this anxiety is at the root of the emotional reactionthat readershave to the story of the velveteen rabbit. The story of The VelveteenRabbit is about the near-deathof a child and also of a rabbit. Both boy and rabbit survive,but the story doesnot leave the readerwith a memory of triumph or joy. Rather,it is a story of loss,of being torn away from previous forrns of closenessand intimacy, of radical shifts in what counts as important, and of the often arbitrary happeningsthat can spark suchchanges.
T The story confrontsus with what we might describeas the "magic-like" characterof reality. Reality, this story suggests,is contextualizedby somethingelse. Reality is not as solid and immediateas we typically take it to be.
While the founding of reality is not, of course,basedon magic, Martin Heidegger'sanalysisof humanexistencein Being and Time allows us to see that thereis indeeda certain"unfounded"elementto reality, a certainway in which reality cannotsupportitself. Thus eventhe abiliry to countasreal is an issueof "mattering," a matterof how we careabout someaspectof our experience.
The world needsus to care about it in a certain way if it is to have the experiential characterof being somethingreal. This is not to saythat we simply makeup the world we desireor need. Thereare,of course, factual realitiesthat we encounterand to which we must respond. In our daily lives, however, we do not typically think of ourselvesas making the world possiblein this way, and we typically do not feel the deep existential anxiety accompanyingthis recognition.
Instead,we think of the world and its contents as independentfrom us and "out there," and, thus, as something we are simply running up against. When we think of the world as fixed and out therein this manner. We are so habituated to ttris everyday way of thinking about ourselvesthat it is unusualfor us to recognizethat we are as being in the world-that we are the meaning-giversthat make the world possible.
The VelveteenRabbit helps to illustrate this often unnoticed characterof our creative engagementwith the world. We are at home in the world, in the senseof having establisheda familiar, coherent,and coordinated relationshipwith natureand with othersubjects. At the sametime, we arealso not at home in the wodd, in the senseof having to exercisean irreducible freedomand creativity in making our experiencemeaningful. He repeatedlyfinds himself on the outsideof where things seemreally to count.
He preciselystruggleswith shapinghis own senseof the worth of himself and of things. Through the rabbit, we are confronted with the experienceofsubjectivity, as well as the anxiety ofexperiencing oneself as "not belonging. This "thing" perhapsheld a senseofspecialness on the day of its presentationto the boy, but otherwise,it seemsit is largely that samestuffedrabbit from beginningto end for them [sites 1, 4, 5, and 8].
In the juxtaposition of thesetwo perspectiveson the rabbit's reality, we see the terrible misapprehensioninvolved in treating a subject as a mere thing. Though the subjectivity of the rabbit is a mere fiction, the subjectivity of the boy is not. We are thus alerted to the demandinvolved in accurately and fairly respectingthe reality that is the boy's subjectivity.
Indeed,this failure to appreciatethe boy's subjectivity is presumablywhat is at stakewhen the boy challengesNana's portrayalof the rabbit as a mere thing. In treatingthe rabbit in this way, Nana fails to appreciatethe importanceof the boy's feel- ings; she fails to appreciatethe way the rabbit matters to him. In insisting that the rabbit is a merething, Nanais relying upon the'bbjec- tive" interpretation of reality.
It is certainly true that the maturity of our perspectivedoesrequire us to recognize the public and objective characterof the natural world as winning out over our merely private imaginings. At the sametime, however, the merely objective view of realiry fails to recogrize the subjectivity-the care-that Heideggeridentifies as behind this experi- ence of objectivity and, indeed,the dialectic of intersubjectiverecognition that we saw to be integral to this experience.
On one hand,Nana reflectsan appropriately adult perspectivein that she has learnedthe lessonof objectiv- ity. On the other hand, however, Heidegger'sphilosophy and the narrative of The VelveteenRabbit point precisely to the insufFrciencyof this "adult" perspective,for it is a denial of the essentialityof subjectivity; that is, it is Hei.
To allow ourselvesto be vulnerable to the opennessof meaning is to open ourselvesto a cer[ain "ungrounded" elementpresentat the basis of our being in the world. It could be massivelyunsettling,for instance,for Nana to con- sider that a stuffed rabbit could be anything other than a toy to be tidied or delivered for the boy's arnusement,especially if she were to consider that there were levels of reality createdand securedby the small boy for whom she tends.
Indeed,she seemsa bit aghastwhen shenoticessomethingthat loohs different, almost wise, about the rabbit the morning after the boy has declared the toy real [site 5]. The boy, it is true, is not an adult,and his imaginativeand playful anitude towardshis toys reflects the immaturity of a child who has not yet fully learnedto experiencethe world asreal. Nonetheless, the opennessto novel possibilities of meaningthat is revealedin play can itself be a corrective to the objective attitude.
As Heideggersuggests,our true maturity or authentic- ity lies in suchan openness. Heidegger arguesthat for at least two reasons,it is not surprising that we tend not to feel and also want not to feel the 'trngroundedness"or the not- at-homecharacterof our existence.
There are countlessdiversionsby which we can and do readily distractourselveswhen we begin to feel out of sortsor anxious. Thesediver- sionsare our way of ". As Heideggerwrites: Daseinis proximallyandfor themostpartalongsi. This "absorptionin. Not-Being-its-selffunctionsas a positivepossibilityof that entity which,in its essentialconcern,is absorbedin a world.
This kind of not-Beinghasto be conceived asthatkind of Beingwhichis closestto Daseinandin whichDasein maintainsitselffor themostpart. This occurs both when we wish to evadethe responsibilitiesof our freedomand also simply owing to the very structureof our way of being. From an exisrcnrtaLontological point of view, the 'not-at-home'must be conceivedas the more primordial phernmcnon.
The meaningof 'bne's" deathbrings to the fore the correlation of free- dom and reality. When the rabbit is thrown out to be burned,he preciselyexperiencesa form of anxiety-this time a deep sadnessaround the seemingmeaninglessness of being made real-if it is all simply to end [sites 8 and especially9]. Here he seemsclosestto facing the utter nothingnesssecuringhis reality.
If we view the rabbit as an illustration of the strugglesthat humansencounterin grapplingwith reality, his anxiety reflects a recognitionthat is uniquely called for from eachof us, as individual subjects-that we know that we are not "settled" things, that we are the bearersof meaningand choice.
Thnrugh the experienceof the velveteenrabbit, the readeris brought into an encounterwith the basic stuggles that define humanity's subjectivity. It is this struggle that resonateswith readerswho feel troubled by the developmentsin the story. The dramaof negotiatingour senseof our own subjectivity with the demandsof objectivereality is not just a generalsffuctureof everyone'sexperi- ence,however;it is alsothe developmentalprocessthat preciselydefinesthe life of the child.
To considerthis point firther, considerpsychoanalytictheorist D. Winnicott's analysisof tansitional phenomenain the lives of infants and children. His analysisconcerningthe strugglewe have in grappling with the foundationsof reality conn tsthis struggledirectly back to childhood experience.
Thus Winnicott's ideaspertain closely to the distinctive theme of The VelveteenRobbit-namely, to the toy that inhabits the transitional realm betweenimagination and reality. Win- nicott varyingly describesthis movementin the following ways: as the move- ment from intemal life to externallife, the movementfrom pure subjectivity to Heidegger Wnnicott, andThe VelveteenRabbit 13 objectivity, the movementfrom immersionto experience,or the movementfrom a world of " magical omnipotentconfiol" to reality.
His analysisfocusesintently on the resistanceand painsof coming to face reality. Further, he theorizesabout the necessarysfirggle we will continueto face throughoutour lives aroundour desireand needto balancethe ultimately unbalanceabletensionbetweensubjec- tivity andobjectivity. When speakingof this struggle,Heideggerusesexistential andmetaphysicaltermsratherthanpsychoanalyticones.
To considerthe earliest psychological signs of our existential identity, this chapter's discussionturns now to look closely at Winnicott's analysisof fhe core qualities of life before, during, and after the earliestand most intensetransitionalperiod-namely that of our moving from infancy through childhood. This chapterwill also examine transitionalexperiencesin what we could considerthe adult stanceof being in reality and experiencingrealiry.
Winnicott proposesthat an infant beginsin a world of pure subiectivity. At this scage,thereis to a significantdegreeno differentiationbetweenthe self and other, betweeninfant and mother, and so forth.
It is, as it were,underthebaby'smagicalconfiol.
Thesamecanbe saidin termsof infant carein general,in the quiettimesbetweenexcitements.