What is unusual about the appearence of the bearded Elder and what is significant about this characteristic in the book "The Giver"?
The bearded elder, also known as the Giver, has a couple of unique features. First, he does have a beard, which is not a trait we hear about when anyone else is described. In fact, based on what we know of the Ceremonies, children's hair is kept fairly short and uniform in style, so a beard sounds unique. His ability to wear a beard may be an exception allowed by his position of honor in the community, as he is granted several other exceptions as well.
The Giver also has pale blue eyes, as do Jonas and Gabriel. Pale blue eyes seem to portend the ability to see beyond, a characteristic of both Jonas and the Giver. Everyone else in the society is colorless, eyes and hair included, so this trait is unique to only a few, apparently special, people.
By giving Jonas, Gabriel, and the Giver all blue eyes, Lois Lowry helps draw a connection for the reader between each of the "special" members of the community. Although we do not find out until later that Gabe can receive memories, we are not terribly surprised by that point because we know he has blue eyes like Jonas and the Giver, which provides a slight foreshadowing that he, too, will have their same abilities.
The Elder (The Giver) has blue eyes, which is very unusual in the society in which Jonas lives. Jonas and the Giver have this trait in common -- as well as the ability to see color. This trait differentiates them from everyone else in the society. Being unique or different is not desirable in The Community, as they stress Sameness. Jonas has the ability to "see beyond," the same ability the Giver has, so Jonas is chosen to become The Receiver of memories such as pain and love, everything The Community has done away with.