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"He struck a match, and I perceived that this young aristocrat had not only a silver-mounted dressing-case but also a whole candle all to himself. Just at that time the manager was the only man supposed to have any right to candles…The business intrusted to this fellow was the making of bricks - so I had been informed; but there wasn't a fragment of a brick anywhere in the station, and he had been there more than a year - waiting." (1.56)
Here Conrad presents several hints at the brickmaker’s moral depravity. He is in possession of objects of obvious wealth – silver-mounted canes and whole candles. His close ties to the manager – who is the only man allowed whole candles – gives us an idea of how he got such prized items. Like the devil, the brickmaker is idle, not doing the work he was hired to do (make bricks).
"It was as unreal as everything else - as the philanthropic pretence of the whole concern, as their talk, as their government, as their show of work. The only real feeling was a desire to get appointed to a trading-post where ivory was to be had, so that they could earn percentages. They intrigued and slandered and hated each other only on that account - but as to effectually lifting a little finger - oh, no." (1.56)
Conrad finally says straight out that the men are hypocrites. They pretend that their mission is to philanthropically help the black Africans, but they exploit them instead. They want to make money for their governments, but even here, they will not lift a finger to do an hour of honest work.
[Marlow on Kurtz’s painting]: "Then I noticed a small sketch in oils, on a panel, representing a woman, draped and blind-folded, carrying a lighted torch. The background was somber – almost black. The movement of the woman was stately, and the effect of the torchlight on the face was sinister." (1.57)
This painting represents the goddess of Liberty (symbolized by the torch) and Justice (symbolized by the blindfold) but Kurtz has put a sinister twist on it. He renders the background a bleak black and makes the flame from the torch baleful. The goddess is not as welcoming as one would hope.