Rafaela is a neighbor who spends her days leaning out the window, waiting for her husband to come home. She sends the neighborhood children to buy drinks for her, drinks she wishes she could leave the house to taste for herself.
Like Esperanza's great-grandmother and like Mamacita, Rafaela is another model of grown womanhood that Esperanza intends to avoid. In yet another instance of intertextuality, note how Cisneros turns the fairy-tale princess image of Rapunzel on its head. Rafaela is no princess, because no prince will come to rescue her. Her "prince" is too busy staying out late to play dominoes. Her "prince" does not liberate her, but locks her away because of her beauty. The idealized, Disney-esque image of the beautiful princess proves to be an inadequate model of mature woman for Esperanza. Rafaela is young, but is growing older with each passing day she allows herself to be locked away, and the "window of opportunity" (note how she leans out a literal window) is rapidly closing.
The House on Mango Street: Novel Summary: Rafaela Who Drinks Coconut & Papaya Juice on Tuesdays