Tuck Everlasting is set in the year 1881. Babbitt never specifies a location but has stated elsewhere that what she had in mind was a cross between the heavily-wooded Ohio frontier which her ancestors had helped to tame in an earlier century and the Adirondack foothills of New York where she was living at the time she wrote the book. Winnie Foster lives in a proper, middle-class house with a fenced-in yard on the edge of the town of Treegap. Her family supposedly owns the nearby Treegap wood, but nobody really owns the wood. It is an ancient, mysterious place, something, Babbitt hints, which has been left over from a previous creation. At its center, protected by magic, lies the fountain of eternal life, a tiny, nondescript spout of water at the base of an ancient ash tree.
Babbitt places the fussy propriety of Winnie's home and yard in contrast with the untamed luxuriousness of nature, and, ironically, with the moldering and messy chaos of the Tuck's shack. When Winnie must choose between a return to her family and staying with the Tucks, the setting provides a visual symbol for her choice. Her old life was as limiting as the fence which kept her at home. Life with the Tucks, although seemingly offering an infinity of new choices, might in the end be just as limiting and considerably more chaotic.
(The entire section is 229 words.)