What was unusual about the appperance of the bearded Elder?

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The beareded elder, who we find out is the Community's current receiver, doesn't often go to the Ceremonies. It is very infrequently that a new Receiver is selected, and the post of Receiver is one that is involves separation from the Community to a certain extent, so because of this, the old Receiver has not been to many Ceremonies. We are introduced to the old Receiver by the Chief Elder in Chapter 8:

The Committee of Elders was sitting together in a group; and the Cheif Elder's eyes were now on one who sat in the midst but seemed oddly separate from them. It was a man Jonas had never noticed before, a bearded man with pale eyes.

It is significant that the Receiver is described as being "oddly separate" from the rest of the elders in spite of the fact that they are sitting all together in a group. This points towards the seriousness of this role and the division it causes between the Receiver and the rest of the community.

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