D-503 enters the hangar to work on the Integral and the Second Builder tells him that while he was out sick yesterday an unnumbered person broke in. Authorities carried the person to the Operation Room, a medical facility that operates under the supervision of the Benefactor and contains such devises as the Gas Bell Jar, a mechanism under which rule-breakers are trapped and gradually deprived of air.
The disturbance that the unnumbered cipher causes is further evidence that acts of rebellion are actually quite common in the One State, and that trouble is brewing just beneath the One State’s veneer of perfect order and obedience.
D-503’s thoughts shift suddenly to I-330 and her mysterious disappearance at the Ancient House yesterday. The Second Builder interrupts him by expressing concern over the threat unnumbered people pose. He tells D-503 about a new operation the One State has invented to rid ciphers of their imagination and suggests that D-503 have it done on himself. D-503 notes, internally, that the Second Builder is troubled by the idea that he has an imagination. D-503 might have related to the man before, but now that he’s sick, he can’t.
The Second Builder’s enthusiasm for the Operation—relative to D-503’s own ambivalence—shows D-503 how alienated he is becoming from the rest of the One State’s ciphers. Still, D-503 attributes his alienation to sickness rather than the result of his actively changing mindset, which suggests that he wants to deny and resist his changing worldview.
D-503 reflects on the Integral’s future, when it will travel to alien civilizations and seize control on behalf of the One State, submitting these newly conquered people to the obligation of “inescapable happiness.” It’s almost ready to embark on this journey. D-503 looks on the people obediently working on the machine in admiration. He walks down from his position on the deck to be with them. Someone inquires about D-503’s health, which rattles him. Embarrassed by his slip-up, he flees the scene, reflecting on how “contaminated” he is, and how he “will no longer be able to pour [him]self into the precise mechanical rhythm” of his work. D-503 hurriedly dismisses his frantic thoughts as mere paranoia.
D-503’s observation that he “will no longer be able to pour [him]self into the precise mechanical rhythm” of his work illustrates his growing alienation. His attempts to rationalize his increasingly erratic behavior are ironically irrational: though he initially accepts that his thoughts are “contaminated,” he ultimately claims that such thoughts are only the result of paranoia. He contradicts himself when he simultaneously accepts and rejects responsibility for his actions, and having contradicting thoughts is illogical in itself.