Norma’s Meeting with Mr. Hands – Chapter 13

Carefully read and annotate Norma’s meeting with Mr Hands in Chapter 13 (pg 209-229)  How does Rawle create tension in this chapter?  Consider:

 The description of Mr Hands and his home

– Norma’s narrative voice & the use of irony

– The relationship between comedy and threat.


Graham Rawle creates tension in this chapter through Mr. Hands behaviours and Norma’s high expectations which did not turn out well. The various uses of typographies, visual and lexical elements creates meaning and gives the readers a clear understanding of what might happen or what is going on in the text. In the beginning of the page there is an image of drab wallpaper background and this, from the starting indicates that something dull is going to happen if she goes out to meet Mr. Hands. Norma starts to expect and create her own imaginations of what might happen or what she is hoping to happen at the studio. However, as Norma approaches to the address given by Mr. Hands, she describes it in a very low classy way. On page 211, she said “ this was not quite the setting I had expected for a PHOTOGRAPHIC STUDIO”; Norma was expecting Mr. Hands’s studio to be big, bright and like a professional but rather, it was old, small and not really like privately owned. Page 211 “I could hear a saucepan being scraped and a women’s voice shouting at a child” “BIKES in the hall” “smell of old dinner” all of these shows that Mr. Hands’ studio is not really like the way he expressed himself to Norma when he first met her. Norma expected Mr. Hands  as a connoisseur of quality when she first met him and had high hopes but as she comes to see his studio, she thinks that she has overestimated him; she describes his room (studio) as “overcrowded with clutter, seedy, down at heel, dilapidated”

Page 212  “TEN”, “Picture?”,  “Mr. Hands” , “I have got EVERYTHING ready” these words written in bold and capital letters indicates that Mr. Hands might have planned everything about what he is going to do with Norma by pretending to be like a professional photographer and take pictures of her; in ten pictures revealing or finding the true identity of Norma and everything. On the other hand, he always compliment her in  an exaggerated way and when Norma asked him questions like, 216 “Where’s YOUR CAMERA?” he didn’t give direct answers (Yes/No); instead he complimented her “No picture can hope to capture your true beauty” thus this also shows that Mr. Hands is hiding something from Norma and since Norma likes compliments, he is taking advantage of it so that she doesn’t find missing things about him. Towards the end of the page 216, Mr. Hands says, “ Ah. so you have a brother” the way the words aliens and arranged seems like as if he got a hint of something and thus he says; page 217 “That’s interesting”. On the other hand, the words look like as if they are being pulled by something and I think the magnet which is on top of the page 217, pointing towards the end of page 216 is pulling the words. The magnet has two poles at the end but in one magnet;  also indicates Norma and Roy as one person. Consequently, if we connect the ideas together, we can see that Mr. Hands is getting to know Norma’s true identity and therefore indicating the approach of danger and creating tension. 

On page 218 “ Except he didn’t exactly use the word ‘romantic’ or the word ‘profile’ ” here Mr. Hands uses the term romantic to express Norma’s good portrait but that is not how a professional or experienced photographer would say. Norma says, “ This was strictly serviceman’s language – be warned!”; his use of words during the photoshoot shows Norma his low class and lack of experience. Actually if we put all the pieces of terms/descriptions mentioned by Norma, we can see that Mr. Hands is a low class person with no experience in photography, nevertheless, Norma ignores all of those since Mr. Hands always try to cover his bad side by complimenting her which makes her unnoticed of things around her. This brings danger and tension to her as she ignores little important parts. In addition to that, the image of a rose on the page 219 also gives ideas to the readers about what type of person Mr. Hands is. The outside appearance of the rose indicates the gentle and soft emotions which is exactly how Mr. Hands is towards Norma but if we look at what’s behind those beautiful leaves, we can see thrones which can hurt the one who is plucking it. Likewise, those thrones indicates the bad side and evil actions of Mr. Hands which he had not shown yet but it might hurt Norma either emotionally or physically soon. Thus, Norma is digging her own grave by neglilating  all little important hints.


On page 221, “MOOD-CHANGING moMENT caught a terrifying glimpse of what he has been fiddling with” the change in the font and size of the letters represents the biggest incident that might happen to Norma soon. This is because the different use font of the letters between “mood change” and “moMent” shows the change in Mr. Hands actions and the “moMENT” changing the size of the letter from small to big shows that the situation is jumping from small to big which can affect both of them but mostly Norma. In addition to that, the page number on that page is also written from small to big size (221).  The situation becomes more intense when Mr. Hands takes crazy actions against Norma and which hurt her. The word “bed” was repetitively shown throughout the chapter (in the beginning , middle and at the end); I think this signifies how and where the problem might have started (photoshoot on the bed) without realising  but ending at where it started. On page 225 “ I shoved him hard towards the bed”; this is when Norma had hit Mr. Hands’ head and runs away. These situations were not as what Norma has expected when she decided to meet Mr. Hands. It was the opposite and a threat to her. Page 227 “ I opened up the back to check there was no film in it” though she expected so many good photos being captured on the camera, she was glad that there wasn’t any picture at the end. Again “ with my feminine loveliness captured on film” even during that kind of situation, she phrases herself which is quite funny but if it actually captured her pictures then there would have been dangers that someone would find the picture and could threaten her.

On page 223 “ I wanted him to STOP; I wanted it all to STOP,” the “STOP” was the biggest font used in the chapter, even the size of page number was written in a really small font so that readers’ attention is drawn to the word “STOP” and thus it shows that Norma desperately wanted everything to stop because she doesn’t want anyone to know about her identity. 

To conclude the author uses simple texts and humour in critical situations to make the reader understand easily but at the same time try to understand and relate back to Norma’s sad life and her confused identities. It also gives further analysis on what is going on and what tensions are created in depth  rather than just what is shown in the book.


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