For at least two hours the Boy loved him, and then Aunts and Uncles came to dinner, and there was a great rustling of tissue paper and unwrapping of parcels, and in the excitement of looking at all the new presents the Velveteen Rabbit was forgotten. (2)
The Rabbit was on top of the world for a few hours and then he got tossed into the toy box. Kids are so fickle. It's lonely out there for a toy.
For a long time he lived in the toy cupboard or on the nursery floor, and no one thought very much about him. He was naturally shy, and being only made of velveteen, some of the more expensive toys quite snubbed him. The mechanical toys were very superior, and looked down upon every one else; they were full of modern ideas, and pretended they were real […] Between them all the poor little Rabbit was made to feel himself very insignificant and commonplace, and the only person who was kind to him at all was the Skin Horse. (3)
This is pretty sad. Not only does the Boy not bother with the Rabbit in the beginning, the other toys don't even want to be friends with him because he's just a boring stuffed animal. Honestly, we think you're better off without those other toys, Rabbit. They sound super stuck-up.
That night, and for many nights after, the Velveteen Rabbit slept in the Boy's bed. At first he found it rather uncomfortable, for the Boy hugged him very tight, and sometimes he rolled over on him, and sometimes he pushed him so far under the pillow that the Rabbit could scarcely breathe. And he missed, too, those long moonlight hours in the nursery, when all the house was silent, and his talks with the Skin Horse. (17)
Even when the Rabbit first connects with the Boy the experience isn't all fun and lovely. The Rabbit misses his friend the Skin Horse and feels uncomfortable just snuggling with the Boy. Good news is, the Rabbit is soon gonna find a best friend in the Boy and his days of loneliness are over. For now…
"Come back and play with me!" called the little Rabbit. "Oh, do come back! I know I am Real!"
But there was no answer, only the little ants ran to and fro, and the bracken swayed gently where the two strangers had passed. The Velveteen Rabbit was all alone.
"Oh, dear!" he thought. "Why did they run away like that? Why couldn't they stop and talk to me?"
For a long time he lay very still, watching the bracken, and hoping that they would come back. But they never returned, and presently the sun sank lower and the little white moths fluttered out, and the Boy came and carried him home. (47-50)
Okay, so the Rabbit may have a sweet friendship going with the Boy, but he's not a wild rabbit. He can't run and jump and play. He's still just a toy. So is he Real? The Rabbit gets left all on his own to contemplate these mysteries when the wild rabbits ditch him.
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. (54)
The Boy is so sick here that the Rabbit is really lonely without his company, but the Rabbit never gives up on him. He stays by his friend's side until he's better. That's dedication.
It was a bright, sunny morning, and the windows stood wide open. They had carried the Boy out on to the balcony, wrapped in a shawl, and the little Rabbit lay tangled up among the bedclothes, thinking. (55)
At last, the Boy comes out of his own isolation and is ready to rejoin the world. The Rabbit is obviously thrilled. Too bad he doesn't know what's coming. Spoiler alert: it's a bonfire.
The little Rabbit lay among the old picture-books in the corner behind the fowl-house, and he felt very lonely. The sack had been left untied, and so by wriggling a bit he was able to get his head through the opening and look out. He was shivering a little, for he had always been used to sleeping in a proper bed, and by this time his coat had worn so thin and threadbare from hugging that it was no longer any protection to him […] Of what use was it to be loved and lose one's beauty and become Real if it all ended like this? (63)
Oh, no. Say it isn't so little Rabbit. After everything this guy has been through. He's been rejected by the toys in the nursery. By the wild rabbits. And now by the Boy he loved so much. He's totally alone. This really hurts.
Instead of dingy velveteen he had brown fur, soft and shiny, his ears twitched by themselves, and his whiskers were so long that they brushed the grass. He gave one leap and the joy of using those hind legs was so great that he went springing about the turf on them, jumping sideways and whirling round as the others did, and he grew so excited that when at last he did stop to look for the Fairy she had gone.
He was a Real Rabbit at last, at home with the other rabbits. (77-78)
All right. But it doesn't all turn out totally awful for the Velveteen Rabbit. He cries and his tears sprout a fairy who turns him into a wild rabbit. Then he gets to live in a huge colony of rabbits forever and never be alone or friendless again. That's a pretty sweet ending for the little Rabbit who just wanted a friend. Good job, little guy.