They compare to the lack of emotion John is showing towards Ann and his “simple mind”.
Ann wants a more complex emotional relationship with John, to live a “dramatic” life, whereas John thinks that getting Ann material things, doing something “for her sake” will be what brings her happiness.
The decline of the storm signifies Ann’s return to rationality and moral conscience.
In the story, “The Painted Door,” Sinclair Ross creates a mood of bitter cold, extreme isolation and loneliness.
The storm thus serves as a metaphor both for Ann’s anxiety about her present life, and also for regrets about past decisions.
The physical separation from her husband signifies the isolation Ann is experiencing in her marital relationship.
She has turned cold and indifferent toward her husband John; her feelings are stormy because she longs for another man but struggles with the guilt of it all.
Both of these physical and mental settings contribute to the climax and conclusion of the story.
The environment of a story can also be used to bring out issues between the characters or as a technique for foreshadowing what is to come later in the story.
The mental setting of Ann is that of the physical environment.