What kind of life does Connie have at the beginning of the story? 

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Connie is shown to live the life of an average adolescent at the start of the story.  She is concerned with materialism and the superficial.  Her appearance is vitally important to her.  She is almost incapable of passing by a mirror or reflection of herself without stopping to either admire the reflection or make alterations to it.  Connie lives "to be seen" in both the shopping mall as well as the restaurant where like minded young people spend time.  She does not like being compared to her "plain Jane" older sister who is more conventional and traditional.  

Connie enjoys flirting with boys through nonverbal communication and being the focus of others' attention.  Oates describes Connie as one who lived for being appreciated outside of her home:  "Everything about her had two sides to it, one for home and one for anywhere that was not home."  Connie understood that her identity was outside of the home, and she did what she could to indulge this.  Her love of popular culture and popular music is what Arnold uses as his "in" when seeking to establish a connection with her.  Connie's image and her preservation of it is shown to be what attracts Arnold to her.  In this, her perceived sense of strength is what enables her downfall.

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