In Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck conveys the idea that when one is isolated, they tend to act in desperation to gain attention.
"'Well-she got the eye...I seen her give Slim the eye. Curley never seen it. An' I seen her give Carlson the eye.'" (28).
Steinbeck's idea is prevalent in the beginning of the story, when Curley's wife wants attention from her husband.
"'Well you been askin' me too often. I'm gettin God damn sick of it. If you can't look after your own God damn wife, what you expect me to do about it?" (62)
Steinbeck's idea progresses throughout the middle of the story, however it changes so Curley's wife now wants attention from friends.
"'Well, I ain't giving you no trouble. Think I don't like to talk to somebody ever' once in a while? Think I like to stick in that house alla time?'" (77)
In the beginning of the story, Curley’s wife flirts with other men and isn’t loyal to her husband because she goes behind his back without him knowing. She does this in desperation to get someone to notice her because she craves social interactions, as she doesn’t get them often when she's confined to her house. Flirting with other men is a desperate act because a person who is thinking rationally wouldn’t emotionally cheat on their husband, but being isolated causes Curley’s wife to not think rationally anymore.
Steinbeck's idea changes again in the middle of the story, when Curley's wife cannot gain attention from friends, so she turns to cruelty.
"'You know what I could do?... Well you keep your place then, N*****. I could get you strung up on a tree so easy it ain't even funny.'" (80-81)
Curley's wife goes around making her husband look for her because she wants that attention from him, and she needs to feel wanted because she feels like she has nobody. She knows that she causes trouble between Curley and the guys, and she likes this because for her, any attention is good attention as she doesn't usually get any. Because she will gain attention from her husband in any way, even if it has negative consequences, like starting a fight between Curley and Slim, she is truly desperate.
By the end of the story, Steinbeck's idea evolves and eventually reveals that when one is isolated, they tend to turn to friendship to gain desperately needed attention.
Curley's wife enters the room with Crooks, Lennie, and Candy, and she wants to be their friend and share her burdens. She reveals that she doesn't like to be alone, which is a deep burden that only can be shared with friends. She doesn't try to flirt with them like she usually would, however she still wants attention, just in a different way. She acts desperately to gain this attention because she realizes that none of those men are her friends, yet she tries to share her struggles with them anyway, thinking that they might at least understand a little because they also have struggles.
Curley's wife goes in to see Lennie, Crooks, and Candy thinking that she can get noticed from a friendly standpoint. However, when she shares that she's lonely, the guys reject her, so she turns to cruelty. She realizes that these men don't want to be her friend, so she understands that the only way to get them to give her the attention she desperately wants is for her to threaten Crooks; she is so desperate for attention as a cure for loneliness that she will verbally abuse an innocent man, who minutes before she was trying to befriend.
Because her words are spoken quickly and are tumbling out of her mouth, this shows that Curley's wife is not thinking clearly about what she is saying; she can’t control her words. This demonstrates the desperation she’s speaking with, as she is desperate to unleash the burden of her life story and finally feel like she can move on from the failures of her past dreams. She can’t do this, however, without a friend to talk to, so she seeks attention from Lennie as a way to be his friend. This contrasts with Curley’s wife in the beginning of the story, when she simply wants attention from others in a seductive way. As she changes, she realizes that she actually wants attention from a friend.
"And then the words tumbled out in a passion of communication, as though she hurried before her listener could be taken away." (88)