Connie has been Joey's girlfriend since they were twelve and eleven years old, respectively. She lives for Joey and has no interest in anyone else (friends, lovers, family). Joey, as is his custom, doesn't treat her very well. Connie relinquishes all claims on personal freedom, and, to be honest, she's fine with that. She completely gives herself over to Joey, ready to follow him wherever he leads her. So when he abandons her, and refuses to give her any guidance, she sinks into depression, having lost the capacity to guide herself.
Seen in this light, how do we interpret her vacuous demeanor? She walks around cold and unresponsive, only opening up to Joey, who alone knows how clever and insightful she really is. Is Franzen suggesting a connection between creativity and freedom, or individuality and freedom? We're not sure. What do you say?