Friday Night Lights Study Guide


Protagonists - The Protagonists are the narrator and the six young men upon whom he places the focus of his reporting. They are the ones who experience every agony and every triumph of the 1988 season of Permian football. They are the ones who learn about being gladiators and holding a whole town upon their young shoulders. They are also the ones who are irrevocably changed by that season.

Antagonists - It might be said that the antagonists of this book are the opponents of the Permian Panthers, and in a great sense, they are. But the greater antagonists are the inner demons of each of the major characters, and how those demons impact the outcome of the season and of their lives.

Climax - The climax is the loss to the Carter High School Cowboys in the semi-finals of the State Championship series. This game brings an end to the dream and forever creates in each boy who experienced it the feeling of “what if?” that consumes them even ten years later.

Outcome - The narrator explains what each boy went on to achieve or lose in the ten years that followed the 1988 season as well as the outcome for the Carter High Cowboys. Brian Chavez went to Harvard and became a lawyer. Jerrod McDougal went to work for his father, but never stopped thinking about Permian football. Don Billingsley continued to drink heavily after graduating, but eventually turned to sobriety and religion. Mike Winchell left Permian with all the records in his name, but was unable to do better than a walk-on at Baylor where he had no success. Ivory Christian was offered a scholarship by Texas Christian University, but it didn’t match the feeling of playing for Permian. Eventually he majored in criminal justice with the goal of becoming a policeman. Boobie Miles tried playing for Ranger Junior College, but also was unsuccessful.

After his injury, he was never the same ball player. He eventually dropped out of school and took a variety of lower level jobs. However, he was a responsible worker and a good father to four children. The next year, Gary Gaines led the Permian Panthers to a State Championship. As for Odessa, ten years after the season revealed in the book, it also has changed to some degree, focusing more on the academic goals of its school system than just on football. This affects the football program, but doesn’t completely eradicate the football fever of its citizens.


This book is a realistic and journalistic report on the year the author spent in Odessa and followed the Permian High School Panthers through the 1988 football season. He focuses on six of the players and the agonies and triumphs they experience as well as exposing the truth about life in a town that is not just football crazy, but also racist and economically challenged because of the nature of the oil business and the life conditions in the area in which they live. We see these people at their best and their worst and perhaps come away with the feeling that this isn’t just Odessa, Texas, but America.

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