The main symbolism of the sled is Jonas’ means of “traveling” through his training to become a Giver. Receiving the lessons is compared to sliding downhill in the snow: at first it’s all excitement and exhilaration, but like life, the ride can become bogged down as snow builds up on the runners, with the snow representing the trials and tribulations Jonas will encounter in his life. The ride down the hill can also become dangerous. The first memory of pain he encounters involves the sled as well, and Jonas learns a valuable lesson from the Giver: that life is a balance of pleasure and pain, and the ride on the sled perfectly symbolizes this.
The symbol of the sled comes in when Jonas meets the elder for the first time. He is the The Giver who is going to transfer his memories to Jonas. He decides to begin with the sled. The sled is used as a vehicle to transport Jonas through the snow but it is symbolic as being a vehicle used for the first transference of the memories and all the emotions and feelings that Jonas will be receiving. He feels wonderful and overwhelmed by the new sensations as well as the sensation of the sleigh ride.
On page 92 in the novel the image of the sled reappears. This time Jonas is being asked about what he remembers about the sled. The Giver at this time is questioning Jonas to determine if he observed the sled. He is trying to determine what sensations and senses Jonas is developing. The sled is representative of the emergence of color.
In the end of the story Jonas, who is trying to save baby Gabriel, finds a sled at the top of a hill. He boards the sled and the two ride it down the hill towards music. The sled symbolizes safety and rescue for the two. He has come full circle. The sled was the first memory given to him and now it is his saving grace.