Masks. We get to wear them every day, in public life. We shine ourselves up (with makeup, polite smiles, etc.) for the outside world. We only let the world see what we want it to see.
Which is what makes reading a book such an incredibly unique experience. We're not just watching a character move through a sticky situation. We're inside that character's head. We're looking through their eyes. You don't get that experience in any other form of entertainment.
As an author, I think part of my responsibility, then, is to depict the unvarnished truth. If we're inside a character's head, we have to see exactly what they're thinking and feeling--we have to see what they don't want the rest of the world to see. We have to view the whole, ugly, unvarnished truth.
It's really nice and pretty to say in public that you'd never blame your friend, if put in Claire's situation. That's the mask we'd all wear. But would you, deep down inside? Would you be able to so easily move past it, no hard feelings, when you were spending months trying to heal and your friend immediately fell back into the pattern of her old daily life? Or would there be resentments?
...One aspect I constantly struggle with is the likable protag. I get it: readers want a main character they can get behind and cheer for. But it's a tough, tough thing to balance this constant likability with depicting the ugly, unvarnished truth.
Authors: How do you strike a balance? Or do you attempt to? Is it possible to be likable an unvarnished all at the same time?