Power is one of the themes that run consistently through The Kite Runner. The power in Afghanistan shifts throughout the story: It is first held by the ruling Pashtuns, then the Russians and, later, the Taliban. Baba is one of the most powerful men in Kabul--rich, flamboyant, popular and philanthropic. When he flees the Russians after their takeover, Amir winds up working in a gas station--a considerable loss of the status he once held. His friend in San Jose, General Taheri, has a similar tale to tell. But despite their present conditions, the general has not forgotten the old Baba, and to him, power and greatness are things that can never be lost. The general tells his future son-in-law about Baba during their first meeting at the San Jose flea market.
"We Afghans are prone to a considerable degree of exaggeration... and I have heard many men foolishly labeled great. But your father has the distinction of belonging to the minority who truly deserves the label.