Critics have argued for generations about the failure of the ending of Huckleberry Finn. Ernest Hemingway began the debate by characterizing the escapades at Silas Phelps' farm as “cheating” his statement was soon followed by rhetorical volleys between Eliot, Trilling, Marx, and others whose writings, taken together, form a miniature canon all their own. While the ending has been variously defended on formal, political, aesthetic, and moral grounds, the very presence of a debate sustained for more than sixty years bears witness to the “problem” of those closing chapters. Perhaps the most simple, and ultimately unanswerable, criticism of the ending is that the characters have grown inexplicably younger – that is, they appear to behave in ways which disregard or “undo” their earlier, more maturing experiences. It seems inconceivable that Huck would go along so easily with Tom's Count of Monte Cristo escapades after witnessing the Grangerfords' feud, just as Jim's childlike acquiescence to the escape plan cannot be reconciled with the wisdom and dignity he had earlier shown as Huck's surrogate parent. Despite the ingenuity of even the most brilliant supporters, no reading can provide the characters in the closing chapters with those psychological qualities they so palpably lack; instead, supporters are left in the more awkward position of arguing that the failure of the ending constitutes an ironic success.