This speech stands as one of the classic defenses of colonial material progress ever written. And nothing in the novel gainsays it. Indeed, by the end of the novel Charles Gould is proven spectacularly right, and the modern world around us today bears testimony to the same victory. However, this speech is meant to be counterposed to Monygham's indictment of material progress near the close of the book, in which he argues that Charles Gould's "better justice" is an "inhuman" justice . To Conrad, the problem with material progress is not that it fails, but that it succeeds too well: being based on an inanimate ("material") standard of value, it crushes the uniqueness of human personality which the novel advances as mankind's true treasure.

Although the speech seems distilled to a crystal clarity, it nevertheless contains a number of subtleties. The word "afterwards" is ambiguous: does Gould mean that the "better justice" will come after the material interests have been installed in power, or after they have passed into history? The latter would be consistent with Marxism, but the key sentence can be read both ways. The word "alone" also has multiple meanings: Gould means that only such conditions can support the material interests, but one can also read the sentence as saying that, given those conditions, only the material interests can continue to exist. The phrase "your money-making," referring broadly to capitalism as such, is also a pointed reference to Emily's own wealth, and how it can be "justified" within the context of their allegorical marriage. Finally, the cliche "pin my faith" has a revealing literality: Gould has willingly and artificially stuck his belief, as strong as a religious "faith," to the cause of progress; he has chosen his dream-ideal.