5

The girls are discussing whether the temporary teacher will remember their face, and then:

「名前はどうかな」
「どうかなァ...」 (the ellipsis is as written in the book)
たまちゃんがそうつぶやいてほおに手をやった。
"How about my name?"
"How about ..."
muttered Tama, and put her hand to her cheek.

This is not the first time I've seen ほおに手をやる and I'm not sure what to make of it.

How should I translate やる?

What significance does this action have?

I get the impression that it might be an action you make while you are thinking deeply. Is this a cultural thing or just a trait of this character? Or something else entirely?

5

In this situation, maybe she looks like this:

enter image description here
(taken from here)

You're right that it's a gesture people take when they're reflecting on something. We also call it in one word 頬杖.

How should I translate やる?

やる has a sense "move something toward", thus: 目をやる "look at", 手をやる "put hand on", 人をやる "send out somebody to" etc.

But as やる has a great number of meanings, you can't expect it comes to this meaning every time you see this collocation.

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