(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

“Trilobites” is a first-person narrative in which a farmer named Colly describes a single day in his life but also recalls many key events from his past. This day is a turning point for Colly because he defies his mother and reunites briefly, but then breaks dramatically, with his former girlfriend.

As Colly drinks coffee in the Rock Camp café, he considers his unsuccessful attempts to find trilobite fossils in the nearby hills, the recent death of his father, and the loss of his girlfriend Ginny, who now lives in Florida but is back in town for a brief visit. Colly’s friend Jim joins him, and they discuss elusive fossils, World War II experiences Jim shared with Colly’s father, and the intention of Colly’s mother to sell the family farm.

Later Colly drives his farm tractor through blighted, drought-stricken fields and contemplates his failings as a farmer. He catches a snapping turtle in the nearby Teays River and begins to butcher and clean the carcass. When Mr. Trent appears to discuss purchasing the farm, Colly refuses to negotiate and carelessly splatters turtle blood on the developer’s trousers. Colly remembers pleasant times from the past (building a barn with his father and his first sexual experience with Ginny in the farm woods), but he also dwells on his father’s death (caused by a sliver of metal from a war wound that eventually worked its way into his brain). For no apparent reason, Colly blames himself for his...

(The entire section is 517 words.)