I know, I said that these pages weren’t necessary to story…but they’re so good that they do indeed add to it.
The narrator assumes his duties as host, offering Robert a drink. Here they attempt a tentative social bonding over drinks and a full meal, the narrator even being on the edge of admiration.
There’s a subtlety to where they sit when they retire to the living room: his wife and Robert on the couch, the narrator in "the big chair," thus establishing some sort of status. Our narrator is either mellowed by food and drink, or he is starting to like Robert a bit, though sly remarks still creep in:
We had us two or three more drinks while they talked about the major things that had come to pass for them in the past ten years. For the most part, I just listened. Now and then I joined in. I didn’t want him to think I’d left the room, and I didn’t want her to think I was feeling left out.
He is making an attempt at being social, may even have begun to enjoy Robert’s company, but he needs to reinforce two things: one, that Robert is blind and two, that he cannot let her know how he’s feeling.
They talked of things that had happened to them–to them!–these past ten years. I waited in vain to hear my name on my wife’s sweet lips: "And then my dear husband came into my life"–something like that.
Again here we have the mention of "name" — leit motif?
It seems that as they talk more and more about Robert’s adventures, the fragile bond disintegrates as the narrator answers Robert’s questions about himself with obvious lack of enthusiasm. There was a very important battle here as if for mating rights, and the victor to the narrator’s mind, was clearly Robert.
The wife grows sleepy and and intends to change into her bathrobe. Would it have mattered if Robert were not blind? To her? To the narrator?
He is getting a bit uncomfortable sitting alone with Robert "listening" to the TV. Interesting how he has changed his manner of speaking here to accommodate Robert’s blindness; he would most likely have naturally have said, "he and I watched…" and then maybe corrected himself.
Another bonding medium: pot. Here I’m wondering if the narrator is again raising a challenge to Robert. It is something he and his wife share, and if Robert passes on the joint, it will be one point less; if he goes for it, then it is something the two will share, maybe all three.
It does something else: It brings them both sitting together on the couch.