Macabéa lives in a one-room tenement with four roommates: Maria de Penha, Maria Aparecida, Maria José, and plain Maria. One of them sells Coty face powder. Another loans Macabéa a transistor radio. This, and that they are lulled to sleep by Macabéa's constant coughing, is pretty much all we learn about the "Marias."
However, the fact that they all live together (five young working women who all pitch in to pay the rent of a one-room place) might remind us of how there are "thousands of girls like this girl from the Northeast to be found in the slums of Rio de Janeiro …" (1.13), all struggling to survive and perhaps someday fulfill some dream they keep inside themselves. Many any of these Maria's could be Macabéa.