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It is already incredibly stressful in the boxcar. People are herded lie cattle to a very ominous place that they can't quite yet understand. Many are suffocating in the damp dank sweat of the unventilated boxcar. On top of that you have mrs Schachter in hysterics. She is shouting out all types of Hellish prophesies that many, in their hearts, know to be true. The men hit her so she will shut up. the scene is a surreal hell to Ellie; he can not believe it has come to this.