What irony might there be in Connie’s decision to go with Arnold in this story and to what extent can this decision be seen as a heroic act?
It is ironic that Connie, in her search for teenage identity, has longed to experience the forbidden delights of courtship and romance. On the day Arnold shows up at her door, Connie has managed to avoid a family outing and is enjoying having the house to herself, feeling the warmth of the sun as if it "were...the caresses of love, and her mind slipped over onto thoughts of the boy she had been with the night before". Her romantic notions are completely dashed in the person of Arnold, however. He appears at her door as a suitor might, but he represents the total and unequivocal perversion of everything she imagined romance and love to be. Instead of embarking with him on an experience of tenderness and discovery, Connie is going to be raped and killed.
Although it might be argued that when Connie decides to go with Arnold, it is not a decision on her part at all, but a helpless capitulation to his demonic manipulation, her action, as recognized by the author, has an element of heroism to it. In an article written by Oates quoted in the reference listed below, the author credits Connie with "an unexpected gesture of heroism" in complying with Arnold to save her family. Arnold has promised not to come into the house to get her, so Connie does have the option of waiting him out until her family returns, but, fearing that he will harm them if she does, she chooses to go with him, even to her death.