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The crowd is being kept away from the pessimists, because it is thought too dangerous for the public to hear their doubts and fears about how the war is progressing. The little boy with the flag doesn't share their pessimism; some in the crowd appear to threaten the pessimists, while others ridicule them, although the woman in black (perhaps she is in mourning?) appears to want to have a word with them, even if it is forbidden.