Connie is proud of her good looks and wants others to notice her. Her major interest is boys. She is happy in her own body and is discovering her sexuality, which she does as often as she can when she goes out with her friends to the shopping plaza. She has cultivated a sexual persona that includes a way of walking and talking that she uses when out of the house. She particularly likes boys who are somewhat older, thinking of herself as mature and sophisticated. Connie loves music and is up to date on all the latest songs. Despite her confidence and positive self-image, Connie gets her ideas about love and sex from song lyrics and when confronted with the attentions of an older, predatory male, she loses control and reverts to childlike behavior. At home her demeanor is more conservative, although she clashes with her mother and even goes so far to wish her dead because she nags Connie about being more responsible. Connie's mother compares her to her older, frumpier sister who is stable, neat, and reliable, whereas Connie is considerably younger, prettier, and livelier.
Arnold Friend appears at Connie's house when she is home alone. He seems to know everything about Connie, including her friends, neighbors, and family and what her parents and sister are doing at the very moment. Arnold Friend tries to act like a teenager, but something is off about him, despite his muscular physique and attention-getting gold convertible. He his definitely beyond his teens and could be as old as 30 or more. Experienced and forceful, he is far more sophisticated than Connie and overpowers her emotionally, using no physical force. He seems demonic, and readers may wonder whether he is in fact a human character or something more satanic, incapable of being overpowered or fought successfully. He refuses to take no for an answer from Connie who succumbs to his requests and threats. It is clear he will rape her and most likely murder her. He is the instrument that will change her life for the worst.
Connie's mother was once an attractive woman, but the years have taken away her looks. She is a gossip and a nag. While she admires her younger daughter's good looks, she would prefer Connie to be more like her steadier, plainer, older sister. Connie's mother argues with Connie and is concerned about her daughter's direction, but she imposes little discipline to try to change Connie. Her adversarial relationship with Connie seems superficial, implying they are more alike than not.