Why is the speaker embarrassed by the old men shaking his hand in “Mid-Term Break”?

Quick answer:

In “Mid-Term Break,” the speaker is embarrassed by the old men shaking his hand, because he doesn't like being the center of attention, especially at such a difficult time. He also doesn't feel that they should be shaking his hand given that he's still a child and they're old men.

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The speaker in “Mid-Term Break” is experiencing a mixture of emotions in the aftermath of his little brother's tragic death. As well as being sad over what's happened, he also finds himself embarrassed upon returning home.

When the speaker enters the house, old men, commiserating with the family over their tragic loss, shake his hand and tell him that they're sorry for his trouble. The speaker is embarrassed at this, almost certainly because he doesn't want to be the center of attention, especially at such a difficult time, when he's in the process of trying to handle grief.

A further source of embarrassment is the fact that the speaker, still a child, feels decidedly uncomfortable about the old men shaking his hand. This must feel rather strange to him; he's probably only ever seen adults shaking hands with each other and not with children, so this is a whole new experience for him, one that he doesn't fully understand.

As the speaker is the eldest child in the household, he's had the role of adult suddenly thrust upon him in the aftermath of this terrible crisis. He's expected to act like a man, and this involves taking on the responsibility of meeting and greeting those who've come to the family home to pay their respects. But because he's not used to this, he feels rather embarrassed by it all.

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