It’s a bright day, and D-503 can look past his sickness. He and a crowd of other ciphers are at the Cube Plaza, which is constructed of 66 concentric glass circles. The atmosphere is grave and silent. D-503 likens his surrounding environment to the Ancients’ religious services, though he mocks the ludicrousness of their relationship to God—Ancients who offered sacrifices to their God were met mostly with anguish and tragedy. In contrast, the ciphers who make sacrifices to their God receive “the victory of the many over the one.”
The bright, blue sky instills within D-503 a sense of comfort and clarity. D-503 can defend the One State’s religiosity because it is purposeful and productive. While Ancients worshiped and suffered for a God who gave them only suffering in return, ciphers worship and suffer for a “God” (the Benefactor), who in turn provides them with “the victory of the many over the one.” In this way, D-503 can justify the One State’s policy of executing rulebreakers in the Cube.
D-503 is about to witness one such sacrifice at the Cube Plaza: a convicted cipher stands, restrained and afraid, on the steps of the Cube. Above him, on the Cube, is the Machine—a mechanical surrogate for the Benefactor, consisting of “quadratic outlines” and heavy, stone hands. R-13 rises and recites poetry condemning blasphemous poetry that insults the Benefactor. R-13 sits. The Benefactor approaches the Machine, pulls a lever, and the Machine chemically eviscerates the convicted cipher. D-503 and the rest of the crowd are excited by the execution, as it affirms the power and order of the Benefactor and the One State.
The Machine is a physical manifestation of everything for which the One State stands: it is mechanical and impersonal, and it uses fear to repress ciphers’ desires to rebel.