What roles do popular conditions play in the story?
The original question had to be edited. Conditions of popularity occupy central importance in the story. Connie defines herself as "popular." Connie defines herself in conditions of popularity in stark opposition to her sister, who Connie sees as plain and boring. For Connie, popularity is defined by well- coiffed hair, wearing clothes that are deemed as fashionable, and ensuring that her taste in music is youthful and socially accepted. Connie and her friends spend more time adhering to socially dictated standards of beauty and being seen in places like restaurants, shopping malls, and movie theatres. Even the dissolution of familial bonds in the name of acquiring popularity is a part of this process.
It is in this setting that Arnold and Connie catch sight of one another. She plays "hard to get" and he flirts back. This is done with the conditions of popularity guiding both. He "courts" her through the embrace of popularity. When Arnold comes to Connie's home, his car is filled with slogans that are driven by youthful popularity, his singing songs and talking in slang as well as liking music that she likes adheres to social popularity. He doesn't drive up to her house in a car like her father's. His appearance in jeans and boots is driven by popularity. His wearing makeup is to conceal his age, making him younger and thus closer to standards of popularity. The conditions of music, sexual identity, contemporary slang are all part of the process by which Connie is spotted by Arnold. These are conditions that reflect surface appearances as being deemed as important. It is this structure that traps Connie into Arnold's dreadful trap. In this, the worship of popular conditions is shown to contain potentially dreadful results.