Why does the wife in "Cathedral" keep asking Robert to go to bed? How does Robert's reply affect the narrator?

Quick answer:

The wife is concerned that the narrator is being insensitive towards Robert, and she becomes increasingly irritated with him. When the narrator offers Robert some dope, she is even more upset. However, by the end of the story, it is clear that she has grown to love Robert as much as her husband does.

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There is another reason the wife keeps asking Robert if he'd like to go to bed: she is displeased that her husband (the narrator) is sharing dope (cannabis) with Robert:

My wife came back downstairs wearing her pink robe and her pink slippers. “What do I smell?” she said. “We thought we’d have us some cannabis,” I said. My wife gave me a savage look. Then she looked at the blind man and said, “Robert, I didn’t know you smoked.”

The narrator's wife is especially protective of Robert. To her, he has been an emotional support throughout her previous, unhappy marriage and subsequent divorce. So, she shares a strong bond with him and feels that she must protect him. When Robert arrives at their home, she focuses on making him comfortable. During an exchange, the narrator asks Robert which side of the train he sat on. Immediately, the wife becomes upset; she thinks that her husband is being insensitive, and she chides him for his question.

Later, when the narrator turns on the TV during a lull in the conversation, his wife also becomes upset. She thinks that the narrator is being rude. Eventually, she yawns and tells the men that she is going upstairs to change into her robe. Here, we see that she has begun to bring up the subject of bedtime. It is clear from her behavior that she is irritated with her husband for what she believes is his lack of sensitivity towards Robert—a major reason she keeps asking Robert if he'd like to go to bed.

While she is gone, the narrator offers Robert some dope. Being a good sport, Robert obliges. The two enjoy themselves until the narrator's wife makes her appearance. She is aghast, however, when she discovers what her husband has done, and of course, she is unhappy about it. Again, she brings up the subject of going to bed. This time, Robert barely acknowledges her with: “I’ve had a real nice time. This beats tapes, doesn’t it?”

Robert's reply pleases the narrator, and he hands Robert another smoke. Although the narrator is initially apprehensive about Robert's visit, the latter's friendly and open manner eventually disarms the narrator. Here, Robert's reply foreshadows the ending of the story, when the narrator finally discovers what makes Robert such a good friend.

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The most straightforward reason why she keeps asking is that she herself is tired and wants to go to bed, but can't until her guest goes to bed.  If you have ever had guests over, and wanted to go to bed, a good way to hint around is to hint politely, as she did, "Your bed is made up when you feel like going to bed, Robert. I know you must have had a long day. When you’re ready to go to bed, say so."  But, he doesn't go to bed and neither does her husband, so she eventually just dozes off right there on the couch.  The story really doesn't indicate that there is any reaction from the husband whatsoever.  She asks Robert twice to tell them when he was ready to go to sleep, and neither time does the narrator react. He has other comments throughout though.  For example, when she goes upstairs to change and takes a long time he states, "I wished she’d come back downstairs. I didn’t want to be left alone with a blind man".  Then, when she falls asleep, he states, "I wish my wife hadn't pooped out."  So initially he is resentful that he has to be there with Robert, alone, playing host.  It is uncomfortable for him.  He does it though, and in the end, has a really neat experience drawing the cathedral, so it wasn't too bad after all.

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