The well is one of the places where Coraline likes to explore and is located in the orchard. In the film, she first visits the area with her dowsing rod, a twig which reveals itself to be poison oak, in a search for water. In the book, she is warned by Miss Spink and Miss Forcible to watch out for the well but visits it anyway to know how to avoid it in the future. The well is also where Coraline and Wybie throw the battered Beldam 's claw in order to stop the retrieval of the key.
Wybie describes the legend of the well to Coraline when he first meets her: "that if one was to fall in the well and look up, they would see a sky full of stars, even in the daytime". This is due to the depth of the well, as in both film and novel, Coraline attempts to measure its depth by dropping a stone (or pebbles and acorns in the novel) inside of it, and counts until it hits the ground. In the film, it is possible, though unlikely due to the distinctiveness, that the sound of the stone hitting the bottom of the well was actually the sound of the rain starting. At the end of the novel, Coraline counts up to 40 seconds before she hears the Other Mother's right hand splash at the bottom of the well. In the novel, an unknown person told Coraline that one would see stars if they were in a mineshaft, and wonders if the same applies to the well.
Theories and speculations have suggested that the well may be a portal to the Other World, as Wybie states that you can see a sky full of stars in the middle of the day from down the well. In the Other World, it's always a sky full of stars. In addition, the well has a fairy ring around it and popular folklore believes that this indicates a portal to another realm.
The well's depiction in the film has it covered by a wooden board with a hole in it. It is surrounded by rocks and toadstools, as well as some mud. In the novel, the well is made of bricks and hidden in the tall grass. It is also covered with planks and has a knothole as well. The protective covering is to stop anyone from falling in, although it is still movable.
The well doesn't have a very large part in the plot of the film until the end when Coraline comes up with a plan to throw the key into it, so as to stop the Beldam from finding it. The novel has a similar idea, only Coraline decides to lure the Beldam's claw into the well by having a 'tea party' with her dolls on top of it. She lays a tablecloth over the top of it and weighs it down, then uses the key as bait. In the film, Coraline attempts to simply throw the key in the well but is attacked by the aforementioned claw and Wybie comes to her aid. He drops a large rock on the claw, crushing it, and he and Coraline wrap it in the blanket she brought with her, tie it with the key string and throw it into the well.