I actually think Norton's 2nd birthday letter is written by Norton himself. I believe the reason it sounds like he's talking to himself is because of the meteorite. It's the reason he has 2 extremes in emotions and pretty much has something close to what seems like DID (Disassociate Identity Disorder, which I believe one of the responses I got from officials actually mentioned him having this). The meteorite screwed up the heads of Norton and the other miners and increased their temptations/desires, making them greedy to the point of not caring about anyone else (even not caring about anyone else's lives). The reason Norton is still screwed up after the mine incident is because his magnets and the rod in his nose are also made from that same meteorite. This results in us pretty much having 2 versions of Norton: the depressed one (the real Norton) and the one we see talking in this letter (the meteorite basically).
We know it's basically the meteorite (or the version of him affected by it) because, as I said, the meteorite increases people's temptations and desires, makes them greedier. This is exactly what we see the author of this letter doing with Norton. It's trying to tempt him, to have him give in to his greed, even to the point of trying to convince him to get rid of someone. The real Norton just wants to get away from the mine. He also still wants to change his fate and get out of poverty, which is what the meteorite is trying to tempt him over.
From the letter, it sounds like Norton lost his parents when he was 8 years or younger. At that point, he was forced to become an adult, and grow up quickly, causing him to have to take care of himself for 20 years, where he "lived like a rat in the gutter". He's a young kid, with no one to take care of him, besides maybe some of the old miners he probably worked with later on, which was why his first deduction is him taking care of old miners. They were the ones that helped him. This is likely why in the letter it mentions “the poor find it difficult to lead a comfortable life, while all the rich need to do is wave their banknotes around”. He’s thinking about what happened to those old miners, and how they died homeless, alone, and with nothing to their name (no money or anything else). These were some of the few people Norton probably cared about, and they lived terribly in comparison to the rich.
Miners don't earn that much (especially kids), so again he was pretty much earning close to nothing, which was all he had to live off of, so it's no surprise Norton describes it as living "like a rat in the gutter". Living conditions back in those days were horrible, and the conditions miners had to endure were even worse. That's what that next part is talking about: "spent days under the ground in the dark just so I could earn a minimal living". As we know from Norton's deductions, he was always the first to enter and last to leave (and miners can spend some very long hours in the mines, especially since their employers pretty much treated them like slaves and less than human). That's why he says he spent "days under the ground just so I could earn a minimal living". Those were the lengths he had to go to just to survive and earn enough (without anyone else to take care of him).
Norton even goes and references his difficult life in one of his tweets, where he comments he’s used to “life-or-death situations”:
“Norton are you okay after the typhoon……!? Do you have all three of your magnets? They didn’t fly off anywhere?”
Things are fine here at the Manor.
I’m used to these kinds of life-or-death situations, after all…
Are things okay where you are?
Even after it’s passed, the ground may have sustained damage,
And the danger of landslides and buildings collapsing still lurks,
So don’t let your guard down.
ξ????)ξ＜ … Do take extra care.
To bring up another reference that agrees with this part of the letter that talks about him having a hard life, just look at Norton’s Sparrow skin. It directly mentions him being a kid that’s “never seen kindness”, having to work hard to earn his money (aka the bit about how he “treasure[s] his hard-earned candy”), and being forced to grow up quickly and become an adult (= “trying to blend into the adults’ world”):
“It's only natural that a child who has never seen kindness will treasure his hard-earned candy. Trying to blend into adults' world, learning to disguise, but perhaps…she's still the one who understands his value and dreams”.
There’s also Norton’s Wild Pitch skin, which is all about how he overworks himself, which ties to his backstory as we hear from the letter that he worked hard to make a minimal living, and suffered despite it (the whole bit about “living like a rat in the gutter”). Norton’s McDonald’s skin is also about the same thing (overworking himself/being a hard worker).
We know again this is some version of Norton talking based on the comment about "scars from the blasts crawled all over my face like maggots". This is referring to the explosion from the mine incident, and the obvious scar we can see on his face.
The part about "the constant scorn and ridicule… I endured it every time just so I'd get a chance to climb up the ladder" goes back to a main subject I discuss in my Norton Analysis (https://docs.google.com/document/d/1-mjYsF50Gb1EbOh61EQ73gAO27x-f5K9/edit). Norton's whole goal is to "change his fate". He wants to get out of poverty and live a more normal life, one where he doesn't have to just barely manage to survive. But no one really believed he could do it. And he's seen the fates others like him usually end up with, since he saw what happened to the old miners that took care of him because he ended up taking care of them when they got too old and reached the end of their lives.
This was why Norton worked so hard, but this is also where the "scorn and ridicule" comes from. We hear about a good bit of this from part of the Famitsu Article on him: “…all knew that he worked tirelessly to break free of his impoverished fate, and this intimidated them. When he fortunately survived a terrible mining accident, nobody came to hear out his experiences during the time. All they did was give him a few token words of comfort, and then they gave him a wide, wide berth…" Norton working as hard as he did "intimidated people", but also no one really believed he'd successfully be able to "change his fate" and "climb up the ladder". Despite this, he kept trying anyways for many, many years. Unfortunately, despite his hard work, he was still unable to get anywhere. That's where Benny comes in and when he changed his methods (because just simply working hard wasn't doing anything). That's when he went after the list of 13 mines Benny had given him (and I already discuss more on why he didn't bring Benny along in my analysis on Norton, such as Benny being old and near death, as well as the fact Benny likely was going to betray Norton later anyways, so I won't go into detail on that here).
We know Norton was a good person before he got to Golden Cave from several of his skins as well as his official twitter responses (as well as the fact if he really were desperate to find gold no matter what, he would’ve used dynamite on the previous 12 mines before Golden Cave. But he didn’t. That implies he wasn’t like this before. The only reason Golden Cave was different was because of the meteorite, which screwed him up).
Regarding tweets, there’s his tweet about boba, which helps prove the real Norton isn’t actually so greedy.
“Name your price, I’ll pay it if you’re making the boba, Norton!!”
I-I’d be fine with you just paying the normal price, though?
ξ????)ξ＜It’s not like boba goes at a market price or anything…
He had a chance to make a lot from the deal, but in the end chose to sell it at the original price, which shows he isn’t the kind of person who’s crazy for every penny. He is actually a good-hearted person who, despite being poor, wants to make the money he needs fairly and honestly, which is why up until Golden Cave he hadn’t done anything criminal or wrong besides hard work to try to change his fate and earn money to get out of poverty.
Here’s Pascal’s explanation of this tweet:
“Market price” is an agreed set average that something should be bought/sold for. It tends to be used for things like seafood (e.g., lobster) and is typically set by a supplier because the price of seafood tends to fluctuate.
Norton seems to believe this person is asking him to set a market price, potentially opting to get as much money as he wants for his boba. However, he refuses, deciding to just charge them the “normal”, fair set price instead. He passes up the opportunity to selfishly get more money even though it’s known that Norton is poor and could definitely benefit from it.
There’s another tweet that possibly helps back up this point, which mentions him wanting to reach his goal based on his “pure” beliefs (which I think goes back to the bit about him wanting to be fair and not take advantage of someone):
“ Will we be able to see the realization of your goal? I hope your injury doesn’t hurt.”
I'm sure you'll see it.
I'll do it based on the ways of my pure beliefs.
No matter how many times it'll take.
Because, I will…definitely make it till the end.
We know this Norton, the gloomy and depressed one, is the real Norton from another tweet of his, where he finds it a bit difficult to accept compliments from people and is somewhat self-depreciating:
Hottie, cool, cute
You’re a ball of charm really! I love you!
Good luck with maint!!”
There you go again, laying all those polite nothings on me…
Charm, huh… If I had any of that, it must’ve been a long, long time ago…
… No, I’m sorry. You’re saying all these nice things, and on our special Second Anniversary and everything too, aren’t you?
ξ????)ξ＜ Thank you. I’m really happy.
We get this kind of personality from several other tweets. There was one when Golden Cave came out and we can get this same kind of personality from him in it (where again, he doesn’t seem to think very much of himself or that he can do a whole lot):
“Norton, let’s escape the cave together…!!!!”
… I’ll do the best I can.
I’ll cooperate too, but…
ξ????)ξ＜ … Don’t expect any more than that from me, please.
Finally, Norton gave a few other replies on his birthday that really show help prove this point about Norton being gloomy and depressed. In the first, he doesn’t seem to fully understand what “happiness” is, and doesn’t believe he’s capable of feeling it. In the second, he seems to doubt anyone would want to celebrate his birthday, or wish him a “wonderful future”, or that anyone would “always love him”.
“Happy birthday, Norton ????!
I hope you have a year full of happiness and smiles.
Thank you for being born into this world and for letting me celebrate. I love you.”
…I don't think I seem that happy.
What is "happiness" to me to begin with?
Could it be that feeling that spread through my heart from hearing your words just now?
ξ????)ξ ＜…As if.
“Happy birthday, Norton!
You and Mole look so close, it makes me smile??.
And I'm glad we were able to celebrate your birthday again this year????
I wish you a wonderful future, not only today but also in the future!
I will always love you.”
This is… incredible. It’s all of me…
How do you deal with me being all over the place?
…No, it’s probably not that deep…
Thank you. I’m glad.
ξ????)ξ ＜ Even if your words aren’t what they really mean.
There’s also Norton’s Highway Cavalier skin, which also helps prove he is a good person surrounded by bad people in a horrible environment: “he is adamant that he is the last true racer of his time who wishes to complete each race with the simplest sportsmanship – despite the significant pain and failure he has suffered”. The part about suffering “significant pain and failure” lines up with Norton’s life (trying to work hard to earn his money normally before the mine incident, as well as all the failures from the 12 previous mines, and then the mine incident itself all count as both “pain” and were all “failures”). Him being the only racer who wants to finish the race with “sportsmanship” lines up with the tweet about boba. The real Norton (the one not affected by the meteorite, or at least Norton before he was affected by the meteorite) wants to earn his money fairly and doesn’t want to take advantage of anyone to do it. Norton’s Hajime Hinata skin says something similar, as its description says he has “a strong sense of justice”.
Golden Cave changed him because of the meteorite there, which ended up screwing up the miners there enough to where the mine incident happened. Norton survived, using some of the meteorite to create his magnets (plus the rod in his nose), and changed his profession to prospector to avoid having to go back into the mine. This is why he says "I've finally managed to crawl out from the rat hole. I no longer have to pick and pull on the disgusting ash".
The reason he says "those who did nothing but laugh at me deserve to stay underground and be stepped on like maggots forever" comes from the meteorite still screwing up his head and increasing his temptations/making him greedy due to his magnets (and the rod in his nose) being made from the meteorite. Norton’s last deduction is also phrased similarly, as it mentions the others just being “unlucky”. We see this mentioned in the Famitsu Article on Norton: "…But his personality became all the more extreme, at times gloomy and depressed, while at times explosively hot tempered and avaricious. Rumor has it that the magnets disturbed his brain, or that that terrible mining incident tangled him up inside. But one thing never changed. He always sought out chances to change his fate…". This "hot tempered and avaricious" version of Norton is the side of him affected by the meteorite. His temper is directed at those that "laughed" at him, that "ridiculed and scorned" him. This likely means, even though Norton never says anything about it and mostly keeps silent whenever someone talks to him like that during those times, the other version of him doesn't take well to that kind of treatment from others. This is because the meteorite is pretty much trying to make him go to extremes. It gets him to say the sorts of things he'd never say and do the sorts of things he'd never normally do.
We know Norton is the type who’d likely stay silent when people say these sorts of things (being laughed at, ridiculed, scorned, etc…) from another tweet, where he confirms he is the silent type.
“To think the gloomy and quiet Norton would have such a glib tongue……… I love it.”
I may be quiet,
But conversations are sometimes necessary or unnecessary depending on the time and place, wouldn’t you say?
ξ????)ξ＜ Even I talk sometimes, you know?
This is also where the "avaricious" bit comes in. Again, the meteorite is trying to get him to be extremely greedy. We literally see this side of Norton trying to talk to the actual Norton, the one that was described as "gloomy and depressed". It's trying to tempt him to give in to his greed. That's why it almost seems like Norton is talking in 3rd person here. It's not exactly the same person. This isn't exactly the real Norton talking. Therefore, we're basically witnessing a conversation (one-sided) between the 2 versions of Norton: "I and only I deserve that money! Think about it, Norton Campbell. There won't be a better chance. Such a simple 'game', such a generous employer. Clear an obstacle and you'll get a load of money. Isn't this much simpler than what you used to do? No life is more precious than others. Just think about that woman, think about how arrogant she is! Get rid of her before she takes any action!".
There are a few other times that sort of hint to Norton having 2 sides or 2 different versions in several of his tweets:
Just chocolate… Since I can’t guess my feelings,
I want you to answer honestly.
The real you… what do you think of me?
“I want to give Norton a Christmas present”
He’s a little unstable. and it’s hard to understand what goes on in his head sometimes,
So maybe it’d be best not to give him anything.
If you still insist,
I’d recommend giving it when he’s calmed down a little.
“Norton!? Are you okay!? What’s wrong!?”
No, it’s nothing.
It’s just a little headache; don’t worry.
ξ????)ξ＜ I’m fine, just fine, you hear me…
“Norton… Is he okay? Emma.”
It looks like he’s doing fine!
But, he sometimes whispers something out of the blue.
It sounds like… “Don’t… forget?”
There’s also how Norton is unique in regards to his (2020) Valentine’s day tweets, as he has 2 (where in comparison the other characters that reply only get one):
… You dream… about my words?
Just one look… and there’s no waking up from a dream like that. If you’re going to turn back, then do it now.
But if you still… want to “fall” asleep… ξ?_??)ξ＜ ………………
Th-this is quite a pickle… what should I even say?
To think that you’d prepare something like this for Valentines’.
To be honest, I still… Can’t really process it, but…
ξ????)ξ＜ F-for now, let me figure out my feelings and I’ll get back to you!
Finally there’s Norton’s facial expression in official art and in game. Half of Norton’s face is smiling while the other half isn’t (almost like he’s frowning, serious, or unhappy). This also helps reinforce the idea that Norton has 2 different sides.
The meteorite if you will in this last section of the letter appears to be trying to convince Norton to go to the manor and participate in a "game". With the "load of money" likely being the reward for winning and "clear an obstacle" referring to the objective of the "game" (which technically in game would be decoding ciphers and escaping through the exit gate). The part about "isn't this much simpler than what you used to do" refers to Norton changing his profession to prospector (from miner) to avoid having to go back into the mine (which he's developed a fear or trauma from, based on his birthday info stating one of his dislikes is "dark and enclosed environments", as well as how in the Famitsu article it says Norton doesn't think a "game" or pretty much anything could be "any darker than that mining incident").
The 2nd half of this section mentions a "woman". We don't have much information on who this is. She's described as "arrogant". Right before this is a line about "no life is more precious than others". This seems to imply this woman thinks her life is "more precious" than anyone else's. The last line is "get rid of her before she takes any action" implies this woman possibly might try to do something, possibly to Norton (maybe Norton thinks she might try to kill him or sacrifice Norton's life for hers/to save herself or something) or possibly to someone else (maybe he thinks she's going to kill someone else).
We can actually get a bit more of this type of suspicion in one of Norton’s tweets, where he shows doubt at someone complimenting him again:
“Prospector is a hottie ily (sudden)”
A hottie you say… not at all…
Deep down, when you look at this face, you’re sticking lots of labels on me too, aren’t you?
ξ????)ξ＜ “Love”, huh… is that the truth?
Actually, speaking of which, I wonder if this woman might want to do something similar to what Servais did with the wine or the poison in Kevin’s and Patricia’s 2nd birthday letter. Maybe she wants to poison someone, and this is why the meteorite/other version of Norton is telling Norton to do something before she does.
If the woman is one of the survivors we’ve heard learned about so far, here are all the female survivors: Emily, Emma, Martha, Tracy, Helena, Fiona, Vera, Margaretha, Patricia, Demi, and Melly. It can’t be Emily and Emma as we know who’s in their games already. Tracy, Helena, Fiona, Demi and Melly all don’t fit the description of “arrogant”, possibly neither does Margaretha. That leaves Martha, Vera, and Patricia. I partially doubt it’s Patricia because she isn’t rich, which was one of the types of people Norton said he disliked. Not to mention Norton doesn’t fit the description Kevin gave of the other 2 in his and Patricia’s game, who he said “bragged about coming from a ‘civilized society’”, and Norton confirmed for us that pretty much a majority of his life he’s lived “like a rat in the gutter” and barely scrapping by, with a minimum living (and therefore again I don’t think sounds like the sort of people Kevin described). Martha is a problem because we are unsure what’s real and what isn’t about her identity and background. If she really did come from a military background, or at least from the 2 letters we have from her birthday, she doesn’t seem like the type who I think would be rich.
That just leaves Vera. From Vera’s backstory from the official IDV Chinese website, she is described as “arrogant, critical, and graceful”: http://id5.163.com/news/official/20180727/26476_766930.html. This is also stated in the prototype version of her artbook page.
Back to the official IDV Chinese site, it talks about “countless rich boys” being smitten by her perfume, and her having a “flurry of suitors”. It also mentions the upper class, both in the official Chinese site and official Japanese IDV site: https://www.identityv.jp/news/gonggao/2018/08/30/29435_772656.html, the latter of which even directly states Vera is from the “upper class”. Then there’s how her likes on her birthday information is luxury items. Therefore, we know Vera both fits the description of being “rich” as well “arrogant” (though Patricia at least is also described as “arrogant” in her prototype artbook page).
Yes, Vera is mentioned to be from Grasse, France, but it’s also mentioned she went in search of a “pure fragrance”. According to the official Chinese site, it’s mentioned she got the recipe from a black market person. Due to not being able to get the perfume to last long enough, she ended up going to the manor, which the Chinese and Japanese sites say is “where the recipe came from”. Going in search of the recipe and then trying to perfect has a good chance of meaning she left her home to do so. We also know Norton likely left to go to the manor based on the 1st part of Norton’s 2nd letter mentioning the manor as “location”, as well as from the latter part of the letter where the other side of Norton/the meteorite is trying to convince Norton to go to the manor and attend the “game”.
To add on to this, Vera is mentioned to dislike dirty, broken things, as well as the “smell of medical disinfectant”. Norton is someone that could be described as “dirty” and broken, not to mention after the mine incident, he was said to have woken up in a hospital (based on the Famitsu article), which could tie in with Vera disliking the smell of “medical disinfectant”. Norton likely is still recovering from the incident, and so even if Vera didn’t actually go to the hospital he was in, it’s possible he might smell strongly of it from how badly he was hurt/wounded from the mine incident.
There’s also how Vera did kill her sister, which could relate to the idea that Norton thinks this woman might do something (whatever that is).
Finally, Vera having a perfume that helps her forget because she wants to forget how she killed the real Vera (her sister) could tie in with Norton. He was traumatized by the mine incident and became so afraid he changed professions to avoid going back to it. There’s also how the Famitsu article says “Norton himself never once brought up the terrible experience again”, not to mention one of his deduction star quotes is "Don't ever mention that mining tragedy to me again!",
So I think the idea of forgetting could also apply to Norton, especially since Norton in one of his tweets mentions “Don’t… forget” in regards to Golden Cave”. Norton not wanting to hear about the mine incident vs. him saying “don’t forget” seems to go back to Norton having 2 sides. The one that doesn’t want to hear about it is possibly the version affected by the meteorite (or simply put, the meteorite itself if you will). But this would still make for an interesting interaction he could have with Vera, who’s whole goal is to make herself forget. There’s also how Norton has 2 “identities” or sides if you will, while Vera herself also has 2 identities, one as Chloe, the real her, and Vera, the identity she took up after she killed her sister. Again, this would make for an interesting interaction or dynamic or whatever if these 2 were in the manor together.
Just a few more notes I wanted to add from looking at translations of the other versions of Norton’s letter.
First off: There’s a part near the beginning (right after the “new handwriting”) that seems to say “That much money! I've never seen that much money before. If it were in a mine, how many people would be willing to give up their lives to get it!”. This is a reference to the mine incident, as that’s exactly how all the miners were at Golden Cave (not just Norton). They were all greedy to the point of being willing to “give up their lives” at the chance of acquiring all the gold in Golden Cave.
Secondly: When he talks about the rich, the exact phrasing seems to be something along the lines of “The poor have no peace in their lives, while the husbands and wives of the rich can just lie back and count their money.”
Third: He mentions how, instead of surviving in squalor/misery, he says he’s “lived underground in the dark, out of the light”. So it’s no surprise one of Norton’s skins is Mr. Mole. It’s also no wonder one of his dislikes ends up being “dark and enclosed spaces”. That’s how he lived for a long time, and especially after the mine incident, he developed a serious fear of those kinds of places. Also right after this he mentions how he “dug desperately for what little food I could find”. This also helps prove that Norton been having a hard time just trying to feed himself. He’s been likely starving for long periods of time in his life, and it was especially hard to find enough while he was stuck underground, doing his job as a miner for such long periods of time (again, due to the employers of miners treating them like slaves).
Fourth: The part where he mentions ridicule and scorn, instead he mentions “I endured ever spit and sneer that flew my way”. This again helps to show what exactly Norton had to deal with while pursuing his goal of “climbing up” out of poverty. He also adds in a bit more detail in the other versions, as he says “It's a funny story. Even though I've tried so hard, it's still just a tiny effort by someone at the bottom of the pyramid.”This again helps show how miserable of a life Norton’s been living, and also how much all of his hardwork has amounted to, not to mention proving that Norton is a person who’s been living “at the bottom of the pyramid”.
Fifth: Norton mentions specifically what his job was, as it says in the other versions “I've just crawled out of a rat hole and been freed from the daily grind of shoveling coal.” So Norton really was a coal miner, which I discussed back in my analysis of Norton was a really horrible life (bad conditions, risky, etc…).
Sixth: During the part where he talks about the people that deserve to rot, he specifically mentions that he’s referring to people “who can only ridicule others”: “Those pathetic insects who can only ridicule others deserve a life of being trampled underground forever and rotting until maggots grow.” It’s not even just people that laughed at him. He thinks people that ridicule others in general are horrible people and deserve to “rot”.
Finally: The part where Norton talks about that “woman”. He mentions her “arrogant appearance”. This could help prove it’s Vera as we know she’s putting on a bit of a show since she’s trying to pretend to be Vera when she isn’t, as according to Vera’s backstory from the official IDV chinese site, it mentions she actually found the sort of people that tried to court her to be repulsive: “Countless rich boys were smitten by Vera's perfume, and even more so by her charm. But no one could impress Vera, despite the flurry of suitors – the extravagance and decadence of the business class, which gave off a rotten smell that no perfume could cover up, was too much for her to bear. As a perfumer, Vera was in search of a pure fragrance that would allow her to transcend these vulgar surroundings”. But from Vera’s deductions when it mentions her dad, and since the dad like (the real) Vera more than Chloe (perfumer), it would make sense (the real) Vera, and her dad, were more the sort of people that were ok with this being surrounded by the rich and upper class (which could’ve been part of the reason the dad liked Vera more than Chloe). Therefore, it seems reasonable to believe that Perfumer/Chloe while pretending to be Vera would pretend to not mind these kinds of suitors and people (which again helps fit the description of the rich that Norton loathes that he describes in his letter), as she would need to pretend to be on her dad’s good side (though Vera in the artbook and the official Chinese site is still described as arrogant either way). The last line of the letter in the other version is instead phrased as “Eliminate her. Before she can get her hands on you!”. This seems to prove that what the other side of Norton (the one affected by the meteorite, or the meteorite itself if you will, the one trying to tempt the real Norton), the reason he’s trying to convince Norton to get rid of this “woman” is because for some reason he thinks this woman is going to possibly kill him or do something else undesirable to him. That or the meteorite/other side of Norton is more making this up and trying to rile up Norton, make him afraid of nothing, just to get rid of her anyways so, like it was said earlier in the letter, he can get all the money himself. But as we know, the real Norton isn’t the kind of person who likes or wants to do this. Thus, that’s why we have the conflict here (Norton fighting with himself about what to do, possibly trying to keep himself from being tempted).