An allegory is a story with (count 'em) two levels of meaning. First, there's the surface of the story. You know, the characters and plot and all that obvious stuff. Then there's the symbolic level, or the deeper meaning that all the jazz on the surface represents.
Tuck Everlasting is often read as a religious allegory, meaning that there's a layer of symbolic meaning to be found in there.
Let's take a look at two of the most common readings:
- First up, Christ allegory. Some scholars say that Winnie is like a Christ figure for the Tucks. The difference? In the Christian tradition, Christ's sacrifice allowed people to have eternal life in heaven. The Tucks, on the other hand, are looking to escape their eternal life, and Winnie's sacrifice allows them to get a taste of mortality (source).
- Speaking of reversals, Tuck Everlasting is often read as a reversal of the story of the Fall. Quick recap: in Genesis, Adam and Eve are told not to eat fruit from the tree of knowledge. But a little serpent comes along, tempts them to do it, and they're kicked out of Paradise. Just like in the novel when immortality is "'something you don't find out how you feel [about] until afterwards'" (12.11), Adam and Eve don't realize their mistake until it's too late. The difference here? Winnie doesn't give in to temptation.