He is a member of Pablo's band. He is a gypsy with bright blue eyes and olive skin. He is shown as one who traps rabbits for their meat. Even more, he is proud of this accomplishment. The fact of trapping the animals also has a symbolic meaning in the context. In fact, before the gypsy kills two rabbits, they have been "making love," and, in a few moments, they are killed. Later, the readers may see that Robert Jordan calls Maria "rabbit." Hence, Rafael plays a leading role in the story revealing many of its main themes. As far as political ideologies are concerned, the gypsy does not believe in any of them and has few loyalties. In terms of his duty, Pablo is a worthless member of the band, even though a well-meaning one. He embodies many ethnic slurs throughout the story. In fact, he decides to leave his post as a sentry at a very crucial moment, and this decision costs the group a lot. He can be contrasted to Anselmo who never abandons his position despite the harsh weather conditions. After Rafael leaves the post, Robert Jordan realizes that the gypsy is mentally unprepared for the war. Finally, a worthless and scared Rafael survives. However, the man is still remembered by readers until the end as one who is responsible for what has happened to the band.
Rafael in the Essays